cer·​tio·​ra·​ri | \ ˌsər-sh(ē-)ə-ˈrer-ē How to pronounce certiorari (audio) , -ˈra-rē, -ˈrär-ē How to pronounce certiorari (audio) \

Definition of certiorari

: 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

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, "Ezekiel Elliott Suspension: Breaking Down Remaining Legal Options for the Cowboys RB," 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, "What you need to know about Supreme Court’s upcoming action on Trump’s travel ban," 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, "Alabama Supreme Court denies appeals of two death row inmates," 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, "Trump’s Twitter Usage May Be His Downfall," 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, "Trump's Tweets May Have Sunk His Travel Ban," 5 June 2017 In a last-ditch effort to reopen the case, the woman’s lawyer, Brian W. Smith, filed a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court last week. Julia Scheeres, WIRED, "Mom: ISP Should Pay for Kid Porn," 27 July 2001

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'certiorari.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of certiorari

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for certiorari

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

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

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More Definitions for certiorari


cer·​tio·​ra·​ri | \ ˌsər-shē-ə-ˈrar-ē, ˌsər-shə-, -ˈrär- How to pronounce certiorari (audio) \

Legal Definition of certiorari

: 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.

History and Etymology for certiorari

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

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about certiorari

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to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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