subpoena

noun
sub·​poe·​na | \ sə-ˈpē-nə How to pronounce subpoena (audio) , nonstandard -nē How to pronounce subpoena (audio) \

Definition of subpoena

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a writ commanding a person designated in it to appear in court under a penalty for failure

subpoena

verb
subpoenaed; subpoenaing

Definition of subpoena (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to serve or summon with a writ of subpoena

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Synonyms for subpoena

Synonyms: Noun

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The Origin of Subpoena

Noun

If you think you recognize the sub- in subpoena as the prefix meaning "under, beneath, below," you're on target. Subpoena arrived in Modern English (via the Middle English suppena) from the Latin sub poena, a combination of sub and poena, meaning "penalty." Other poena descendants in English include impunity ("freedom from penalty"), penal ("of or relating to punishment"), and even punish. There is also the verb subpoena, as in "Defense lawyers have subpoenaed several witnesses to the crime."

Examples of subpoena in a Sentence

Noun received a subpoena to appear as a witness for the prosecution Verb He was subpoenaed to testify in a hearing. The prosecutor subpoenaed the defendant's financial records.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Instead, a District Court judge will consider the new circumstances if the subpoena is reissued when Trump is no longer president. Washington Post, "House Democrats cannot immediately access President Trump’s tax and financial records, after court ruling," 30 Dec. 2020 The subpoena also demanded AG’s office records related to Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts and Ohioans for Energy Security -- the main groups for and against the referendum, respectively. Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland, "Feds subpoenaed AG Dave Yost’s office as part of HB6 bribery investigation," 16 Oct. 2020 The fight over the subpoena is still working through the court. Teri Figueroa, San Diego Union-Tribune, "California Attorney General suing to force ATF to classify unfinished ‘ghost guns’ as firearms," 29 Sep. 2020 The subpoena is seeking eight years of Trump's personal and business tax records and covers financial documents outside of New York City. Kristine Phillips, USA TODAY, "Trump attorney fights to block disclosure of tax returns but judges appear skeptical," 25 Sep. 2020 The Justice Department, however, argues the case should be dismissed because the matter will become moot on January 3, when the 116th Congress ends and the subpoena expires. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, "House Democrats plan to push for McGahn testimony next year, lawyers say," 17 Dec. 2020 The Committee, whose Chairman will not change in the next Congress, will reissue the subpoena, consistent with House Rules and precedent. Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner, "House Democrats to subpoena ex-White House lawyer Don McGahn again," 16 Dec. 2020 Though the election’s results have been finalized in the Great Lake State, subpoena powers have been granted to the Senate and House oversight committees to review all communications and electronic equipment in Livonia and Detroit City counties. Caitlin Mcfall, Fox News, "Dominion officials say paper ballots verified election results in Michigan oversight hearing," 16 Dec. 2020 The gun manufacturer wants the court to stop the state from enforcing the subpoena. Zusha Elinson, WSJ, "Gun Maker Smith & Wesson Sues New Jersey to Block Subpoena," 15 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The House Oversight Committee will subpoena Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross unless his department hands over internal documents detailing delays and issues with data related to the 2020 census, the committee chairwoman warned in a letter. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Today: The perils of pandemic parenting," 3 Dec. 2020 The Senate Commerce Committee voted on a bipartisan basis Thursday to subpoena the CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter to testify about the tech industry's controversial legal shield. Nihal Krishan, Washington Examiner, "Senate committee subpoenas heads of Facebook, Google, and Twitter," 1 Oct. 2020 The Senate Judiciary Committee last week voted to subpoena Dorsey and Zuckerberg over the Biden laptop story, which is still getting blocked on Twitter. Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner, "Parties batter Big Tech over bias and 'disinformation'," 28 Oct. 2020 Mueller choosing not to subpoena Trump and Mueller's report not reaching a decision on whether Trump obstructed justice. Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner, "Rare interview with Robert Mueller devoid of questions about Russia investigation," 2 Dec. 2020 The Italian oil company wants permission to subpoena information from the investment firm, Drumcliffe Partners LLC, to help its defense in the corruption trial in Milan, which Nigeria has joined as a civil party. William Clowes, Bloomberg.com, "Eni Accuses Nigeria, U.S. Litigation Funder of ‘Opaque’ Deal," 14 Oct. 2020 The House Committee on Education and Labor is expected to subpoena the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday for records about potential conflicts of interest among board members, which the committee has been seeking. Washington Post, "House Committee subpoenas labor board over conflict of interest questions," 15 Sep. 2020 The Utility Commission will decide Thursday whether to allow the Public Advocates to subpoena SoCalGas accounting records. Allysia Finley, WSJ, "Now We’re Cooking With Gas. But Tomorrow?," 16 Dec. 2020 Johnson has been authorized to subpoena and depose up to 40 people in the committees' probe, which has yet to issue any findings. Anchorage Daily News, "Trump, lagging in polls, pressures Justice Department to target Democrats and criticizes Barr," 10 Oct. 2020

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

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1640, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for subpoena

Noun

Middle English suppena, from Latin sub poena under penalty

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Time Traveler for subpoena

Time Traveler

The first known use of subpoena was in the 15th century

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Statistics for subpoena

Last Updated

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Subpoena.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subpoena. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for subpoena

subpoena

noun
How to pronounce subpoena (audio) How to pronounce subpoena (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of subpoena

 (Entry 1 of 2)

law : a written order that commands someone to appear in court to give evidence

subpoena

verb

English Language Learners Definition of subpoena (Entry 2 of 2)

law : to order someone to appear in court to give evidence : to issue a subpoena to (someone) or for (something)

subpoena

noun
sub·​poe·​na
variants: also subpena \ sə-​ˈpē-​nə \

Legal Definition of subpoena

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a writ commanding a designated person upon whom it has been served to appear (as in court or before a congressional committee) under a penalty (as a charge of contempt) for failure to comply — compare summons
variants: also subpena
subpoenaed; subpoenaing

Legal Definition of subpoena (Entry 2 of 2)

: to call before a court or hearing by a subpoena the inspector is given the power to subpoena any relevant…witnessesHarvard Law Review also : to command the production of (evidence) by a subpoena duces tecum subpoenaed documents

History and Etymology for subpoena

Noun

Latin sub poena under penalty

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