1

subpoena

play
noun sub·poe·na \sə-ˈpē-nə, ÷-nē\

Definition of subpoena

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

subpoena was our Word of the Day on 05/14/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of subpoena in a Sentence

  1. received a subpoena to appear as a witness for the prosecution

Recent Examples of subpoena from the Web

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.

The Origin of subpoena

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."

Origin and Etymology of subpoena

Middle English suppena, from Latin sub poena under penalty


2

subpoena

verb sub·poe·na

Definition of subpoena

subpoenaed

;

subpoenaing

  1. transitive verb
  2. :  to serve or summon with a writ of subpoena

Examples of subpoena in a Sentence

  1. He was subpoenaed to testify in a hearing.

  2. The prosecutor subpoenaed the defendant's financial records.

Recent Examples of subpoena from the Web

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.

First Known Use of subpoena

1640


SUBPOENA Defined for English Language Learners

subpoena

play
noun

Definition of subpoena for English Language Learners

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

subpoena

verb

Definition of subpoena for English Language Learners

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


Law Dictionary

1

subpoena

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

subpena

\sə-ˈpē-nə\

Legal Definition of subpoena

  1. :  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

Origin and Etymology of subpoena

Latin sub poena under penalty


2

subpoena

transitive verb sub·poe·na
variants: also

subpena

Legal Definition of subpoena

subpoenaed

subpoenaing

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



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up subpoena? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to fight against or to call in question

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time-traveler-quiz-which-word-came-first
  • Which came first?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!