The Meaning of Bona Fide: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of bona fide? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word bona fide, including its definition, usage, word origin, example sentences, and more!

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What does the term bona fide mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language and other sources like American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language and Collins English Dictionary, the word bona fide is an adjective that describes something that is sincere, genuine, or made with earnest intent. As a legal term, the word bona fide means made in good faith, without any fraud or deceit. Bona fide is three syllables – bo-na-fide, and the pronunciation of bona fide is ˈbɑnə ˌfaɪd.

While many different languages also use the term bona fide (ˌboʊnə ˈfaɪdi) since it comes directly from the Latin, many other languages have their own terms for bona fide. Knowing these different translations of bona fide is useful if you are going to be traveling or communicating with a person who does not speak English. This list of translations for bona fide is provided by Word Sense

  •  Icelandic: gerður í góðri trú‎
  •  Russian: добросо́вестный‎
  •  Dutch: oprecht‎
  •  Spanish: de buena fe‎
  •  Japanese: 善意‎
  •  Mandarin: 善意‎
  •  Finnish: vilpitön‎
  •  Turkish: iyi niyetle‎, samimiyetle‎
  •  Slovak: dobre myslený‎
  •  Arabic: عن حسن نيَة‎
  •  Portuguese: em boa fé‎
  •  Czech: bona fide‎, v dobrém úmyslu
  •  German: auf Treu und Glauben‎
  •  French: de bonne foi‎

What are synonyms and antonyms of the term bona fide?

There are many different words that have the same meaning as bona fide (ˈboʊnə fide). These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another word or phrase and can be used interchangeably. Knowing synonyms is useful if a person is unfamiliar with the Latin term or if you’re looking to expand your vocabulary to avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms is provided by Thesaurus

  •  real
  •  with good faith
  •  good-faith
  •  authoritative
  •  authentic
  •  true
  •  kosher
  •  straight
  •  credible
  •  veritable
  •  valid
  •  original
  •  natural
  •  unquestionable
  •  true to life
  •  pure
  •  genuine
  •  actual
  •  official
  •  for real
  •  honest
  •  card-carrying
  •  legitimate
  •  rightful

Are also numerous different words that mean the opposite of bona fide (bɔːnə fɑɪd). These opposite words are called antonyms. Learning antonyms is another great way to expand your English language vocabulary in a quick and easy way. This list of antonyms of bona fide is also provided by Thesaurus.

  •  fictitious
  •  simulated
  •  affected
  •  bogus
  •  invented
  •  mock
  •  false
  •  spurious
  •  reproduction
  •  pretended
  •  forged
  •  fabricated
  •  counterfeit
  •  artificial
  •  fraudulent
  •  sham
  •  phony
  •  imitation
  •  assumed
  •  concocted
  •  fake
  •  pseudo
  •  make-believe

What is the origin of the term bona fide?

According to Etymonline, the word bona fide has been used since the 1540s and comes directly from the Latin bona fide, which means in or with good faith. This is an ablative of bona fides, which means good faith. It uses the feminine ablative of bonus and the ablative of fidēs. This was originally used in English as an adverb, and in 18c began to be used as an adjective. The opposite of bona fide is mala fide, which implies deception.

How can bona fide be used in a sentence?

The term bona fide can be used in many different sentences in the English language. Using words in a sentence it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with their definition. You could also try making quizzes or flashcards for yourself to test your knowledge on the definition of different words and phrases. Try using this phrase of the day in the center today in order to memorize its definition. Below are several different examples of the term bona fide to get you started on learning the word. 

The executive made a bona fide offer on the ad. Although the price seems astronomical, various online news sources attested to the fact that it was indeed the correct number. He paid millions for a spot in the Superbowl.

The employees made a bona fide statement of intent to the management. They were tired of being treated so poorly, and working outside normal hours at the public house. The statement was a way to create change, and they ended up taking the management company to court.

While she was only eight years old, the young girl was the bona fide purchaser of a house. She started a multi-million dollar business at age six and bought her family a home containing a bona fide Rembrandt work.

The Princeton University student was the bona fide holder of the key to the city. After saving several people from a burning building, this was her reward. While she didn’t feel like she did anything outside the realm of humanitarian work, the key served as a reminder that she could achieve anything she set her mind to.

They took the young toddler who started talking at under a year old to receive feedback on her intelligence. After a lengthy bout of testing, the toddler was certified as a bona fide genius. She started middle school at age five, high school by seven, and college at age ten. She went on to be the youngest person ever to receive her PhD in English Literature from an Ivy League school, and at age fifteen, she is currently a lecturer at Harvard University.

Overall, the singular noun and adjective bona fide (ˈbɔːnə fɑɪd) means honest or genuine. Current usage of the word implies honesty and genuineness in recent examples. The first known use of bona fide comes from the Latin bonā fidē. 


  1. bona fide | Origin and meaning of phrase bona fide | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  2. bona fide: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  3. BONA FIDE Synonyms: 28 Synonyms & Antonyms for BONA FIDE | Thesaurus 
  4. FAKE Synonyms: 83 Synonyms & Antonyms for FAKE | Thesaurus 
  5. Bona Fide | Definition of Bona Fide | Merriam-Webster