cer·​tio·​ra·​ri ˌsər-sh(ē-)ə-ˈrer-ē How to pronounce certiorari (audio)
-ˈrär-ē How to pronounce certiorari (audio)
: a writ of superior court to call up the records of an inferior court or a body acting in a quasi-judicial capacity
… filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, which, in effect, asked that Court to review Sam's case.John Grisham

Examples of certiorari in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For those reasons, the 19 states requested the SCOTUS grant a stay until a certiorari can occur. Greg Wehner, Fox News, 19 Dec. 2022 This spring, once the Supreme Court had granted certiorari for the New York City case, lawyers on all sides of the gun issue recognized that the travel ban was indefensible under ordinary constitutional standards. David B. Kopel, National Review, 12 Sep. 2019 Justices Thomas and Gorsuch dissented from denial of certiorari in a 2017 California case, Peruta v. San Diego. David B. Kopel, National Review, 12 Sep. 2019 If Elliott defied the odds and was granted certiorari, his case would not be heard until 2018, and his suspension would be stayed until after a Supreme Court ruling. Michael McCann, SI.com, 12 Oct. 2017 One other twist: The request for a hearing — known to lawyers as a petition for certiorari — requires only four votes to be granted. Greg Stohr, The Seattle Times, 21 June 2017 Jason Michael Sharp and James Osgood both filed for a writ of certiorari to the state's highest court-- a petition that asks the court to hear their separate cases. Ivana Hrynkiw, AL.com, 16 June 2017 But the tweets could bolster his opposing counsels’ arguments in applications for stays and petitions for certiorari, enabling his opponents to at least temporarily block or hamstring the president’s efforts. Danielle Tcholakian, Longreads, 5 June 2017 On Thursday of last week, Wall had filed a petition for certiorari in International Refugee Assistance Program v. Trump. Garrett Epps, The Atlantic, 5 June 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'certiorari.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Latin, literally, to be informed; from the use of the word in the writ

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of certiorari was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near certiorari

Cite this Entry

“Certiorari.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/certiorari. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Legal Definition


: an extraordinary writ issued by a superior court (as the Supreme Court) to call up the records of a particular case from an inferior judicial body (as a Court of Appeals) compare appeal

Note: Certiorari is one of the two ways to have a case from a U.S. Court of Appeals reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Certification is the other. The Supreme Court may also use certiorari to review a decision by a state's highest court when there is a question as to the validity of a federal treaty or statute, or of a state statute on constitutional grounds. Certiorari is also used within state court systems.


Medieval Latin certiorari (volumus) (we wish) to be informed (words used in the Latin texts of such writs)

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