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From Middle English surete, from Anglo-Norman seurté, from Latin sēcūritās. Equivalent to sure +‎ -ty. surety (n.) . 1300, "a guarantee, promise, pledge, an assurance," from Old French seurté "a promise, pledge, guarantee; assurance, confidence" (12c., Modern French sûreté), from Latin securitatem (nominative securitas) "freedom from care or danger, safety, security," from securus (see secure (adj.)). From late 14c. as "security, safety, stability; state of peace," also "certainty, certitude; confidence." Meaning "one who makes himself responsible for another" is from early 15c. Until 1966, the French national criminal police department was the Sûreté nationale. Doublet of security.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈʃʊəɹɪti/, /ˈʃɔːɹɪti/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈʃʊɚɹəti/, /ˈʃɝɹəti/


surety (countable and uncountable, plural sureties)

  1. Certainty.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Bible, Genesis xv. 13
      Know of a surety, that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Sir Philip Sidney
      For the more surety they looked round about.
  2. That which makes sure; that which confirms; ground of confidence or security.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      [We] our happy state / Hold, as you yours, while our obedience holds; / On other surety none.
  3. (law) A promise to pay a sum of money in the event that another person fails to fulfill an obligation.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Shakespeare
      There remains unpaid / A hundred thousand more; in surety of the which / One part of Aquitaine is bound to us.# (law) One who undertakes to pay money or perform other acts in the event that his principal fails therein.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Bible, Proverbs xi. 15
      He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it.
  4. A substitute; a hostage.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Cowper to this entry?)
  5. Evidence; confirmation; warrant.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Shakespeare
      She called the saints to surety, / That she would never put it from her finger, / Unless she gave it to yourself.


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