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

The investigation was requested by a magistrate in Bologna. Maude Campbell, Popular Mechanics, "The Complete History of the Autopsy," 26 Dec. 2018 Prosecutors last month told the magistrate Wilson must be jailed to send a message that such institutional cover-ups will no longer be tolerated. Rod Mcguirk, USA TODAY, "Australian bishop sentenced to year’s detention for child sex abuse cover-up," 2 July 2018 But prosecutor Mark Gibson told the magistrate there was no evidence to back Richter’s theory that Pell had been targeted over the church’s failings. Rod Mcguirk,, "Pope Francis’ former finance minister faces sex abuse charges," 1 May 2018 The way booking works now, suspects are taken to local jails, where they are then either detained or released pending an appearance before a judge or magistrate in one of the county's 13 municipal courts. Peter Krouse,, "Municipal court consolidation not on radar in Cuyahoga County, but further jail mergers are," 9 Feb. 2018 There is, however, no data on the attitudes of Hong Kong’s nearly 200 judges and magistrates. Austin Ramzy, New York Times, "Hong Kong’s Courts Have Defended Its Freedoms. Is Beijing Changing That?," 5 Feb. 2018 When Turpin failed to appear for a pretrial hearing in July, a bench warrant was issued by a Las Cruces magistrate judge. Stephen Hawkins, The Seattle Times, "Turpin dismissed from TCU team after 2nd charge surfaces," 23 Oct. 2018 According to a November 2 Vancouver court ruling, an American federal magistrate judge in New York issued a warrant for Ellingson's arrest in January 2018 on charges of drug trafficking. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Silk Road’s alleged hitman, “redandwhite,” arrested in Vancouver," 21 Nov. 2018 The magistrates are still weighing charges from their offices in Bogota and Miami. Cesar Garcia, Fox News, "Exiled jurists symbolically sentence Maduro to 18 years," 15 Aug. 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

2 Feb 2019

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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).


to deny responsibility for

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