mag·​is·​trate | \ˈma-jə-ˌstrāt, -strət\

Definition of magistrate 

: an official entrusted with administration of the laws: such as

a : a principal official exercising governmental powers over a major political unit (such as a nation)

b : a local official exercising administrative and often judicial functions

c : a local judiciary official having limited original jurisdiction (see jurisdiction sense 1) especially in criminal cases

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Other Words from magistrate

magistratical \ ˌma-​jə-​ˈstra-​ti-​kəl \ adjective

Synonyms for magistrate


adjudicator, beak [chiefly British], bench, court, judge, jurist, justice

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Examples of magistrate in a Sentence

chose to take their case before the local magistrate

Recent Examples on the Web

Jones' bond was set at $18,000 by a magistrate court in Clayton County, Ga., on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Alexandra Deabler, Fox News, "Nearly naked teenager charged for jumping on wing of plane at Atlanta airport," 28 June 2018 Galagoda Atte Gnanasara, leader of the Bodu Bala Sena or Buddhist Force is escorted by prison officials after he was sentenced to imprisonment by a magistrate court in Homagama, Sri Lanka, Thursday, June 14, 2018. Washington Post, "Hard-line Buddhist monk jailed for 6 months in Sri Lanka," 14 June 2018 The three men made initial appearances in magistrate court Wednesday. Heather Nolan,, "3 indicted in alleged 7th ward narcotics trafficking operation," 24 May 2018 Over at the jail, Judge Henry took up his usual position in a small magistrate courtroom where initial hearings are held before the accused are transferred to trial courts. Erin Ailworth, WSJ, "‘Don’t Scream’: How the Texas School Shooting Unfolded," 20 May 2018 As a result, court magistrate issued an attachment for the person's arrest, levied a $35 fine and suspended the relative's driver's license. Michelle Hunter,, "Kenner court manager accused of fixing relative's traffic ticket trouble," 17 May 2018 The district, which serves both San Diego and Imperial counties, has 20 full-time active judges — a combination of district and magistrate seats — plus four vacancies. Kate Morrissey,, "Can legal system handle new zero-tolerance crackdown on illegal border crossings?," 12 May 2018 The Oscar winner will play a magistrate who reconsiders his role in a regime in the adaptation of J.M. Coetzee's allegorical novel. Alex Ritman, The Hollywood Reporter, "Mark Rylance Confirmed for 'Waiting for the Barbarians' (Exclusive)," 12 July 2018 The two entities have had trouble squaring differences over how the new facility should look and operate, to the point that the city plans to continue using the old magistrate’s office rather than move. Jasper Scherer, San Antonio Express-News, "Tour of new intake center renews rift between officials," 11 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'magistrate.' 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 magistrate

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for magistrate

Middle English magestrat, from Latin magistratus magistracy, magistrate, from magistr-, magister master, political superior — more at master

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Last Updated

9 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for magistrate

The first known use of magistrate was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of magistrate

: a local official who has some of the powers of a judge


mag·​is·​trate | \ˈma-jə-ˌstrāt \

Kids Definition of magistrate

1 : a chief officer of government

2 : a local official with some judicial power


mag·​is·​trate | \ˈma-jə-ˌstrāt, -strət \

Legal Definition of magistrate 

1 : a civil or judicial official vested with limited judicial powers a traffic magistrate

2a : a municipal, state, or federal judicial officer commonly authorized to issue warrants, hear minor cases, and conduct preliminary or pretrial hearings

called also magistrate judge

b : an official (as a judge) authorized to perform the role or function of a magistrate magistrate means an officer having power to issue a warrant for the arrest of a person charged with a public offenseArizona Revised Statutes

History and Etymology for magistrate

Latin magistratus magistracy, magistrate, from magistr- magister master, political superior

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Comments on magistrate

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


a private place of worship

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