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 The Cupertino company regularly complies with subpoenas for data stored in its cloud, but argues that breaking into a locked iPhone would be require undermining its own encryption, which in turn would make all iPhones less safe. Brian Barrett, Wired, "Security News This Week: The FBI Wants Apple to Unlock iPhones Again," 11 Jan. 2020 The other article of impeachment accuses the president of obstruction of Congress for directing aides and agencies to defy subpoenas from Congress as lawmakers investigated. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, "Federal judge allows Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas to provide evidence for impeachment inquiry," 3 Jan. 2020 The other two cases arise from House committee investigations into the president’s finances, with subpoenas issued to banks that did business with Trump and his family. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "SCOTUS grants Trump’s request for review in financial records cases," 14 Dec. 2019 The emoluments cases are distinct from another set of cases, now pending at the Supreme Court, that seek access to Trump’s financial and tax records through subpoenas from Congress and New York prosecutors. Washington Post, "President Trump’s hotel in D.C. is at the center of anti-corruption, emoluments lawsuit," 12 Dec. 2019 In response, without lawful cause or excuse, President Trump directed Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials not to comply with those subpoenas. orlandosentinel.com, "Articles of Impeachment against President Trump," 10 Dec. 2019 Trump has also asked the high court to block a subpoena from a New York prosecutor for his tax returns. Brian Melley, Fortune, "Trump Doesn’t Have to Disclose His Taxes to Be on California’s Primary Ballot," 21 Nov. 2019 Earlier this year, Jefferson County Chief Deputy District Attorney Joe Roberts said Beasley was a key witness in the case and prosecutors had not been able to locate her or serve her with subpoena for more than a year. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "Birmingham woman charged with perjury after ex-husband acquitted of capital murder," 19 Nov. 2019 The high court has a separate pending request from Trump to block a subpoena from a New York prosecutor for Trump’s tax returns. SFChronicle.com, "News of the Day From Across the Nation," 18 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Bolton's former deputy, Charles Kupperman, was subpoenaed and asked a court to decide whether he would be required to testify. Byron York, Washington Examiner, "ANALYSIS: Behind Bolton's decision," 6 Jan. 2020 Bolton was not subpoenaed by the House but, as a senior adviser to the president on matters of national security, had similar arguments at his disposal. Eric Tucker, USA TODAY, "Judge dismisses impeachment suit from ex-White House aide," 31 Dec. 2019 As part of the investigations, Intuit has been subpoenaed for records. Justin Elliott, ProPublica, "TurboTax Tricked Customers Into Paying to File Taxes. Now Several States Are Investigating It.," 19 Dec. 2019 According to the government, Dibee was subpoenaed to a grand jury in the Western District of Washington on Dec. 7, 2005. oregonlive, "Accused eco-saboteur Joseph M. Dibee who was fugitive for more than a decade can live with sister while awaiting trial, judge rules," 14 Dec. 2019 Bolton hasn’t been subpoenaed by to appear, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has so far suggested he won’t be, even though his testimony could be of high interest to impeachment investigators. Aamer Madhani, Twin Cities, "Impeachment hearing takeaways: A ‘domestic political errand’," 21 Nov. 2019 Mulvaney had been subpoenaed to appear last week for a closed-door deposition before House impeachment investigators but did not show up. Eric Tucker, chicagotribune.com, "White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney won’t sue over over the House impeachment proceedings and will instead decline to cooperate," 12 Nov. 2019 Perry was subpoenaed earlier Thursday by House committees conducting the probe. Fox News, "Trump headlines Dallas rally as scrutiny over Ukraine intensifies," 18 Oct. 2019 After resisting a summons from Congress to testify last week, Sondland was subpoenaed in the impeachment inquiry, and has agreed to testify before multiple congressional committees Thursday morning. Nick Budnick, Fortune, "How Gordon Sondland, ‘a Guided Missile for Getting Access,’ Landed in the Middle of Trump’s Ukrainian Mess," 17 Oct. 2019

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

15 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Subpoena.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subpoena. Accessed 19 January 2020.

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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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