Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb \ˈsīt\

Simple Definition of cite

  • : to write or say the words of (a book, author, etc.)

  • : to mention (something) especially as an example or to support an idea or opinion

  • law : to order (someone) to appear before a court of law

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of cite


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to call upon officially or authoritatively to appear (as before a court)

  3. 2 :  to quote by way of example, authority, or proof <cites several noteworthy authors>

  4. 3 a :  to refer to; especially :  to mention formally in commendation or praise b :  to name in a citation

  5. 4 :  to bring forward or call to another's attention especially as an example, proof, or precedent <cited the weather as a reason for canceling the picnic>

citable play \ˈsī-tə-bəl\ adjective

Examples of cite in a sentence

  1. The article cites several experts on the subject.

  2. The museum had often been cited as an example of successful fund-raising.

  3. He cited evidence suggesting she was in the area when the crime was committed.

  4. She was cited for reckless driving.

Origin of cite

Middle English, from Anglo-French citer to cite, summon, from Latin citare to put in motion, rouse, summon, from frequentative of ciēre to stir, move — more at -kinesis

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of cite

summon, call, cite, convoke, convene, muster mean to demand the presence of. summon implies the exercise of authority <was summoned to answer charges>. call may be used less formally for summon <called the legislature into special session>. cite implies a summoning to court usually to answer a charge <cited for drunken driving>. convoke implies a summons to assemble for deliberative or legislative purposes <convoked a Vatican council>. convene is somewhat less formal than convoke <convened the students>. muster suggests a calling up of a number of things that form a group in order that they may be exhibited, displayed, or utilized as a whole <mustered the troops>.

CITE Defined for Kids


verb \ˈsīt\

Definition of cite for Students


  1. 1 :  to order to appear in court <She was cited for reckless driving.>

  2. 2 :  to quote as an example, authority, or proof <He cites several experts in his report.>

  3. 3 :  to refer to especially in praise <The school was cited as a model for others.>

Law Dictionary


transitive verb \ˈsīt\

Legal Definition of cite


  1. 1 :  to demand the appearance of in court :  serve with a citation <had been cited for contempt> <you are hereby cited to show cause in the Probate Court>

  2. 2 :  to quote or refer to as a precedent or authority <the plaintiff cites several cases for the proposition>

Origin of cite

Latin citare to rouse, call on, summon

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up cite? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


expressing little or no emotion

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.