pe·​ti·​tion | \ pə-ˈti-shən How to pronounce petition (audio) \
plural petitions

Definition of petition

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a formal written request made to an authority or organized body (such as a court) filing a petition for divorce Her defense lawyer had petitioned the court to videotape Scott's testimony about Hearst before he died, but the petition was denied.— Robert Lipsyte
b : a written request or call for change signed by many people in support of a shared cause or concern Hundreds of contributors and readers signed a petition circulated by the National Book Critics Circle, urging the Post to save the stand-alone section.— Motoko Rich Her group put together a petition signed by more than 100,000 consumers demanding that regulators crack down on companies who "robocall" consumers using automated dialers and recorded voices to market scams.— Shawn Zeller
2 : an earnest request : entreaty … he begged to sleep with Hareton, and his petition was granted for once.— Emily Brontë
3 : something asked or requested


petitioned; petitioning\ pə-​ˈti-​sh(ə-​)niŋ How to pronounce petition (audio) \; petitions

Definition of petition (Entry 2 of 2)

1 transitive : to make a request to (someone) especially : to make a formal written request to (an authority) His people petitioned the government for permission to use the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. — Taylor Branch … to adopt "red-flag" laws, which allow police officers and family members to petition a court to bar dangerous individuals from possessing guns. — Norman J. Ornstein
2 intransitive : to make a request She neither petitioned for her right nor claimed it.— George Meredith especially : to make a formal written request A year later he moved to Rome and petitioned to join the Jesuits, who gave him a university education and ordained him in 1586. — Brian Vickers

Other Words from petition


petitionary \ pə-​ˈti-​shə-​ˌner-​ē How to pronounce petition (audio) \ adjective

Examples of petition in a Sentence

Noun They collected 2,000 signatures on a petition demanding that women be allowed to join the club. Would you like to sign our petition? We presented a petition to the legislature to change the law. She filed a petition for divorce. We ask you to hear our petition. Verb The organization petitioned the government to investigate the issue. All people had the right to petition the king for help. She petitioned to join their club. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The San Jose solar manufacturer whose tariff petition has thrown the brakes on the U.S. solar industry produces panels that may be defective. Sammy Rothstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 12 May 2022 More than 135,000 supporters have joined PETA’s online petition urging Starbucks to stop charing more for vegan milk. Zack Sharf, Variety, 10 May 2022 And then there is a petition campaign circulating to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot. NBC News, 8 May 2022 That petition also seeks to have Kainerugaba prosecuted for alleged treason, charging that his activities are destabilizing. Rodney Muhumuza, ajc, 8 May 2022 In the Dominican Republic, Pfizer is fighting a petition for the government to compel the company to share its patents for Paxlovid with generic makers. Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times, 8 May 2022 Another petition is pending in the suburban Markham courthouse. Megan Crepeau, Chicago Tribune, 6 May 2022 Last year, a group of U.S. solar manufacturers filed an anonymous petition to the Commerce Department, saying Chinese manufacturers were evading U.S. tariffs by routing their operations through those Southeast Asian countries. Phred Dvorak, WSJ, 5 May 2022 Protesters asked the university to compensate her for the expenses, a petition that has gained nearly 54,000 signatures on as of Thursday. Laura Daniella Sepulveda, The Arizona Republic, 28 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb If more than 30% express interest in joining a union, the group can petition the National Labor Review Board for a formal vote. Stephanie Mlot, PCMAG, 13 May 2022 In severe cases, the county can petition a judge to appoint a public conservator to oversee a person considered gravely ill. Gary Warth, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 May 2022 Companies that sell anti-piracy products could petition the Copyright Office to be added to the list. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, 21 Apr. 2022 Under the proposal, family members, behavioral health care providers and first responders, among others, could petition a civil judge to initiate a plan for eligible individuals who lack medical decision-making capacity. Justin Raystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 21 Apr. 2022 This fall, Chinese President Xi Jinping will petition for a third term as the nation's leader, breaking with the tradition of a two-term maximum. Nicole Goodkind, CNN, 17 Apr. 2022 The new system would let family members, first responders and behavioral health providers petition a civil judge to initiate a CARE plan that could last for up to two years. Hannah Wileystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 26 Apr. 2022 Major cities across the U.S. are dealing with increases in gun violence in the wake of the pandemic, pushing some local leaders to petition the federal government for action. Sarah Holder,, 11 Apr. 2022 Cases reach court when child protective services agencies petition a judge to remove children. Suzanne Hirt, USA TODAY, 6 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of petition


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1607, in the meaning defined at sense

History and Etymology for petition


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin petition-, petitio, from petere to seek, request — more at feather

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Time Traveler for petition

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near petition

petitgrain oil



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Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Petition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for petition


pe·​ti·​tion | \ pə-ˈti-shən How to pronounce petition (audio) \

Kids Definition of petition

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an earnest appeal
2 : a formal written request made to an authority


petitioned; petitioning

Kids Definition of petition (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make an often formal request to or for

Other Words from petition

petitioner noun



Legal Definition of petition

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a formal written request made to an official person or body (as a court or board) a petition for equitable relief the creditor filed a petition for involuntary bankruptcy
2 : a document embodying a formal written request


transitive verb

Legal Definition of petition (Entry 2 of 2)

: to direct a petition to petition the court

intransitive verb

: to make a petition petition for relief

Other Words from petition

petitioner noun

More from Merriam-Webster on petition

Nglish: Translation of petition for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of petition for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about petition


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