prae·​ci·​pe ˈpre-sə-ˌpē How to pronounce praecipe (audio) ˈprē- How to pronounce praecipe (audio)
variants or less commonly precipe
: any of various legal writs commanding a person to do something or to appear and show cause why he or she should not
: a written order requesting a clerk or prothonotary of a court to issue a writ and specifying the contents of the writ

Word History


Middle English presepe, from Medieval Latin praecipe, from Latin, imperative of praecipere to instruct — more at precept

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of praecipe was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near praecipe

Cite this Entry

“Praecipe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jun. 2024.

Legal Definition


variants also precipe
ˈpre-sə-ˌpē, ˈprē-
: a written request for an action (as the issuing of a writ of execution) from a party to a clerk of a court or sometimes to a judge
filed a praecipe for the writ of scire facias
shall issue upon praecipe of the plaintiff

Note: When addressed to a clerk, a praecipe is usually a request for some action that does not require immediate judicial review, such as the issuing of a subpoena or the preparing of a record for appellate review. When addressed to a judge, as for jury instructions in some jurisdictions, a praecipe is similar to a motion.


Medieval Latin precipe, legal writ commanding a person to do something or show cause why he or she should not, from Latin praecipe, imperative of praecipere to give rules or precepts, admonish, enjoin

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