Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A person legally empowered to witness and certify the validity of documents and to take affidavits and depositions.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. an officer who can administer oaths and statutory declarations, witness and authenticate documents and perform certain other acts varying from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. someone legally empowered to witness signatures and certify a document's validity and to take depositions

Etymologies

Anglo-Norman/Law French, on model of notaire publique, hence the unusual order of adjective following noun, instead of idiomatic English *public notary. Compare attorney general, court martial, fee simple, secretary general, surgeon general. (Wiktionary)

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