Serving New Castle, Kent and Sussex Counties  

Notary Glossary

Click here for the pdf of the Notary Glossary

Acknowledge:   To recognize as one’s own.  In the notarial act called an acknowledgment, the document signer recognizes before a Notary that a signature on a document is his or her own and indicates it was made voluntarily.

Acknowledgment:  A notarial act which requires the person who has already signed a document to personally appear before the notary and swear (acknowledge) that he/she willingly signed the document for the purposes for which it was intended.  The notary does not have to actually see the person sign the document, but does have to actually witness the person affirm the signature.

Act:  A doing, a public act is one who has public authority, has been made before a public officer and is authorized by a public seal.

Administer:  To discharge the duties of an office:  to give.

Affiant:  A person who makes and signs a written statement under oath or affirmation:  signer of an affidavit.       

Affirm:  To make an affirmation:  to make a solemn promise on one’s own personal honor with no reference to a Supreme Being.

Affirmation:  Spoken, solemn promise on one’s personal honor, with NO reference to a Supreme Being.  A person who makes an affirmation is subject to the same penalties for perjury as a person who makes an oath.

Affix:  To attach physically or inscribe/impress, as signature or seal.

Affidavit:  A written statement, signed before a notary, in which the person swears to the notary that the statement is true.

Apostille / Authentication:  A certificate of notarial authority issued by the Secretary of State.  A document that is notarized in Delaware that is going to another country or Puerto Rico may require the addition of a certificate issued by the Office of the Delaware Secretary of State certifying that the notary was a duly commissioned notary on the date of the notarization.  Certain countries signed the Hague Convention of October 5, 1961, agreeing to accept a single document, an apostille, to authenticate the signature and seal of a notary public.  Documents going to countries that did not sign the Hague Convention will receive a Certificate of Authority.  The person wanting the Apostille or Certificate of Authority is the signer of the document and not the notary public.  The signer makes a written request to the Secretary of State for a fee.

Attorney-in-fact:  A person (not necessarily a lawyer) who is given written authority to sign and/or act on behalf of another individual (the principal), normally through a document called a Power of Attorney.

Attest:  To confirm (usually in writing) that a document is genuine.

Awareness:  Being able to understand a document’s significance.

Capacity:  Specific role of a representative signer – attorney in fact, trustee, corporate officer, partner or other – when signing for another person, organization or legal entity.

Certificate, Notarial:  Wording completed, signed and sealed by a Notary that states the particulars of a notarization and appears at the end of a signed document or on a paper attached to it.

Certified Copy:  An exact, complete and unaltered copy of a document, signed as a true copy of the original. 

Coercion:  Forced or compelled into doing something, through fear, intimidation, and/or threats.  A notary should refuse to notarize a signature or acknowledgment unless all parties are willingly involved.

Commission:  To authorize to perform notarial acts: written authorization to perform notarial acts that is issued by a state’s governor, secretary of state or other empowering official.  Called an appointment in some states and jurisdictions.

Competence:  The ability to understand.  A notary should be comfortable that all parties understand what they are signing or affirming.

Credible Identifying Witness:  Someone who is personally known to the notary who can swear to the identity of a person requesting a notarization that is not known to the notary and cannot produce proper identification.

Defendant:  Person accused of causing damages and from whom compensation is sought in a lawsuit.

Deponent:  Person who, under oath or affirmation, gives oral testimony that is transcribed for use in a legal proceeding.

Deposition:  A written statement used in legal matters that is transcribed from oral testimony given under oath or affirmation and is usually signed by the person giving the oath or affirmation.

Duress:  Unlawful restraint or action placed upon a person by which the person is forced to perform an act against his/her free will (i.e. person threatening to injure another if something is not done.)

Endorsement:  Public expression of approval.

Ethics:  Principle of good conduct;  moral values.

Forgery:  False signature, written document or other creation made to imitate the true signature, document, or creation, with the intent to defraud.

Fraudulent:  Deliberately false or deceptive.

Grantee:  A person who receives the deed of real property from the grantor.

Grantor:  The person transferring title to or an interest in real property to a grantee.

Hand:  Signature.

Impartial Witness:  Unbiased and disinterested party who will not gain financially or in any other way from the transaction.

Imposter:  Person with false identity.

Instrument:  Document.

Incompetent:  A person without adequate ability or knowledge who is unable to manage his/her own affairs.

Journal, Notarial:  Official record book of notarizations by a Notary Public.

Journal Entry:  A detailed description (information recorded) of the notarial act preserved in a bound book.

Journal of Notarial Acts:  Detailed, chronological record of official acts of a Notary Public.

Jurat:  The notarial act that certifies having witnessed the signing of a document and administered an oath or affirmation in which the signer declares the document to be truthful and accurate.

Jurisdiction:  Geographic area – a state or county – in which the Notary Public is authorized to perform notarial acts.

Lease:  An agreement outlining the relationship of landlord and tenant (lessor and lessee).

Lessee:  A person who rents property from another.

Lessor:  A person who rents property to another.   Landlord.

L.S.:  Abbreviation of the Latin term locus sigilli meaning “place of seal”.  Traditionally used to indicate where the official seal is to be imprinted or stamped.

Notarial Acts:  The official duties and responsibilities performed by a notary public whose function is to administer oaths; to take acknowledgments; to witness or attest signatures; to certify or attest copies; and to note a protest of a negotiable instrument, by affixing a complete notarial certificate including the notary’s official signature and seal, in order to give them credit and authenticity.

Notary Public:  A public ministerial officer, also an agent of the state, commissioned by the Secretary of State to serve the public as an impartial party to a document, to deter fraud, with duties specified by law.

Notarial Seal:  The official seal of the notary.  In Delaware, the seal may be either a metal embosser (crimper) or a black-inked rubber stamp.  However, it must contain the following elements: 

1.      The Notary’s Name EXACTLY as it appears on his/her certificate commission

2.      The word’s “My Commission Expires on”

3.      The Commission Expiration Date

4.      The words “Notary Public” and “State of Delaware”

Negligence:  Failure to use reasonable care that would be expected of any other person in a similar situation.

Negotiable Instruments:  Document containing a promise to pay a certain sum of money to the document’s bearer.

Notarial Acts, Notarizations: Witnessing duties of a Notary that are specified by law.  Most often, the Notary’s duties involve signed documents and require the Notary to ensure a signer’s identity and willingness to sign.

Oath:  Spoken, solemn promise to a Supreme Being that is made before a Notary in relation to a jurat or other Notarial act or as a notarial act in its own right.

Oath of Office:  Oath promising to faithfully discharge the duties of a particular office.

Paralegal:  A person with legal skills, but who is not an attorney and who works under the supervision of a lawyer.

Perjury:  Making of false statement under oath or affirmation in an official proceeding.  It is generally punishable by fine and/or imprisonment.

Personal Appearance:  Appearing in person, face to face, in the same room with the Notary at the time of the notarization – not before and not after.

Personal Honor:  Individual conscience.

Personal Knowledge:  Familiarity with an individual resulting from random interactions over a period of time sufficient to eliminate every reasonable doubt that the individual has the identity claimed.

Positive Identification:  Identification:  knowing who a person is without reasonable doubt or suspicion.

Power of Attorney:  Document granting authority for a person to act as attorney in fact for another.

Principal:  A person who is permitted or directed another to act for his/her benefit: a person who is a signer of and party to a document.

Reasonable Care:  The use of ordinary prudence and intelligence exercised in similar circumstances.  Failure to use reasonable care is negligence.

Representative Capacity:  Status of signing or acting in behalf of another person or on behalf of a legal entity, such as a corporation, partnership or trust.

Representative Signer:  Person with the legal authority to sign for another individual, organization or legal entity.  Representative signing capacities include attorney in fact, trustee, corporate officer or partner.

Satisfactory Evidence:  Reliable identification documents; or the sworn or affirmed statement of a credible identifying witness that an individual has the identity has the identity claimed.

Seal of Notary:  Inking or embossing device that imprints the Notary’s name, title (Notary Public) and jurisdiction on a notarized document.  Also may include such information as the county where the commission and bond are on file, commission number and date of commission expiration.

SS or SCT:  Abbreviation of the Latin word scilicet, meaning “in particular” or “namely.” 

Statement of Particulars:  Wording in a notarial certificate that describes what the Notary has certified.

Signature by Mark:  An “X” or other symbol made in place of a signature unable to write and witnessed by a notary and two (2) other persons.

Subscribe:  To sign.

Swear:   To take an oath.

Sworn:  Verified.

Testimony:  Evidence given by a competent witness under oath or affirmation.

Venue:  The location (state and county) where a notarization was performed.

Will:  Legal document containing a person’s wishes about disposition of personal property after death; short for “Last Will and Testament.”

Willingness:  State of acting freely without duress or undue influence.



Click here for the pdf of the Notary Glossary