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For most people, affirm has a couple of meanings. For people in the legal profession or for people who need to testify in court affirm has a couple of different, but related additional meanings.

Outside of the legal realm, in one of its senses, to affirm something is to assert it strongly and publicly or to confirm the truth of it.

To affirm can also mean to provide someone one with emotional support or encouragement. For example, parents can affirm their children to give them the confidence they need to grow into self-assured youths and, then, adults. Or parents can be uncaring, heartless bastards.

The choice is theirs, but I’d like to think that I’d choose an affirming behavior if I were a parent. I’m not, so who knows>

Switching to the legal sphere, depending on where you live, if you, like me, are an atheist courts may allow you to give testimony by promising that it’s the truth rather than swearing on a bible. This is called an affirmation. Because the dictionary has a separate entry for affirmation, I’ll save my comments on this sense of affirm and affirmation for that entry.

A court might also affirm the judgement of a lower court. That will probably make someone happy and someone else unhappy, but it will likely make the lawyers happy because having to go to a second court takes more time and, therefore, puts more money in lawyers’ pockets.

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