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pe·​ti·​tion pə-ˈti-shən How to pronounce petition (audio)
plural petitions
: 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
: 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
: an earnest request : entreaty
… he begged to sleep with Hareton, and his petition was granted for once.Emily Brontë
: something asked or requested
petitionary adjective


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

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
Lawmakers in a handful of states, including California and Connecticut, have enacted laws in recent years allowing victims to cite the abuse in civil matters, including petitions for protection orders. Tim Stelloh, NBC News, 1 Dec. 2023 According to the petition, Zen, who was 22 months at the time, approached her parents and began crying. Angel Saunders, Peoplemag, 30 Nov. 2023 The court concluded hearings on multiple petitions about the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)’s investigation into the allegations of stock manipulation that were made against Adani by U.S.-based Hindenburg Research ten months ago. Gloria Haraito, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 An online petition calling on the hospital to reverse course and reinstate Dr. Masoud has garnered 89,000 signatures. Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, 24 Nov. 2023 This year, a Minnesota appeals court rejected Chauvin’s petition for a new trial. Anumita Kaur, Washington Post, 21 Nov. 2023 If these petitions make it to the ballot, the people will decide. Breccan F. Thies, Washington Examiner, 21 Nov. 2023 In a petition to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), bankers and tellers at Wells Fargo branches in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Bethel, Alaska declared their intent to join the Communications Workers of America’s Wells Fargo Workers United (WFWU). Niket Nishant, Fortune, 20 Nov. 2023 The repair reforms outlined in the petition also go well beyond what states have so far enacted. Amrita Khalid, The Verge, 14 Nov. 2023
In 2013, campaign group Common Cause petitioned the Supreme Court to end the ban. Adil Rashid, WIRED, 28 Nov. 2023 Then, after the 72-hour hold was extended to 10 days, the Department of Behavioral Health petitioned a D.C. Superior Court judge for an additional extension, lasting up to a year. Omari Daniels, Washington Post, 21 Nov. 2023 Despite the narrow defeat the first time, Mayor Shirley Washington successfully petitioned the Pine Bluff City Council over the summer to return the measures to the ballot. I.c. Murrell,, 15 Nov. 2023 Those petitioning the 5th Circuit after that meeting in 1994 had no chance at all. Anat Rubin, ProPublica, 4 Nov. 2023 In response, the additive industry petitioned the FDA to keep allowing the use of BVO, but at a lower limit of 15 ppm. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 3 Nov. 2023 Three weeks after the program was introduced, a group representing taxi and ride-hail workers in the city petitioned the court to intervene. Aarian Marshall, WIRED, 21 Nov. 2023 The family had petitioned to be notified of all of Kanyus’s movements during trial, a measure permitted by Russian law for the safety of crime victims. Mary Ilyushina, Washington Post, 18 Nov. 2023 Earlier this year in March, Wozniak signed a letter that petitioned for a pause on the development of artificial intelligence (AI) models. Gabrielle Rockson, Peoplemag, 9 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'petition.' 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 Anglo-French, from Latin petition-, petitio, from petere to seek, request — more at feather

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1607, in the meaning defined at sense

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

Dictionary Entries Near petition

Cite this Entry

“Petition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
pe·​ti·​tion pə-ˈtish-ən How to pronounce petition (audio)
: an earnest request : entreaty
: a formal written request made to a superior or authority


2 of 2 verb
petitioned; petitioning -ˈtish-(ə-)niŋ How to pronounce petition (audio)
: to make a request to or for
especially : to make a formal written request
petitioner noun

Legal Definition


1 of 2 noun
: 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
: a document embodying a formal written request


2 of 2 transitive verb
: to direct a petition to
petition the court

intransitive verb

: to make a petition
petition for relief
petitioner noun

More from Merriam-Webster on petition

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