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 With few legal options, the Trump Organization has been complying with that subpoena. BostonGlobe.com, "Both Trump and his company reimbursed Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, for money Cohen paid to buy the silence of Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress who said she had an affair with Trump. The president has denied the affair.," 17 Sep. 2019 With few legal options, the Trump Organization has been complying with that subpoena. New York Times, "8 Years of Trump Tax Returns Are Subpoenaed by Manhattan D.A.," 16 Sep. 2019 Heberle repeated the government's objections to that defense in his closing statements, noting that those reimbursements took place long after the campaign when federal investigators began issuing grand jury subpoenas and search warrants. Joe Sonka, The Courier-Journal, "In closing argument, prosecutor says Lundergan's campaign mistakes were 'deliberate'," 11 Sep. 2019 In his report, Myers describes traveling in July 2015 to Oceanside, California, where MSG lived, to serve him with a subpoena for a trial that was set to begin Aug. 11. oregonlive, "Terry Bean’s lawyer, alleged victim’s lawyer colluded for months to get accuser to stay silent, new documents allege," 30 Aug. 2019 Sackler, a Connecticut resident, was served with a subpoena to testify in May and sought a protective order from his state’s court. Zach Murdock, courant.com, "Connecticut AG: Purdue Pharma must be liquidated, shut down as part of any settlement," 30 Aug. 2019 In fact, six months earlier, SDNY prosecutors had reportedly issued a grand jury subpoena to Nike employees whose work included EYBL matters (no Nike employees were charged, though at least theoretically that could still happen). Michael Mccann, SI.com, "How the Michael Avenatti Case Could Disrupt the Basketball World," 19 Aug. 2019 The White House directed Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson not to comply with the congressional subpoena for documents related to their time working for the Trump administration. Claire Zillman, Fortune, "Why This Trans Rights Activist Is Embracing 'Tokenism:' Broadsheet June 5," 5 June 2019 The White House also directed former officials Rob Porter and Rick Dearborn to defy subpoenas from the committee to appear at the committee's first formal hearing on impeachment proceedings against the president. Grace Segers, CBS News, "Lewandowski sidesteps questions about Mueller report at House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing," 17 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Congressional Democrats have taken an aggressive approach, subpoenaing six years of Mr. Trump’s tax returns from the Treasury Department, as well as personal and corporate financial records from Deutsche Bank, Capital One and Mazars USA. New York Times, "8 Years of Trump Tax Returns Are Subpoenaed by Manhattan D.A.," 16 Sep. 2019 Agents subpoenaed iFunny for information about the subscriber and received a Gmail address. Steve Almasy And Dave Alsup, CNN, "Feds say in court docs that teen threatened agents and had stockpile of weapons and ammo," 14 Aug. 2019 New York Attorney General Leticia James has also subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank related to three large loans the bank extended to President Trump’s company in recent years. Renae Merle, Washington Post, "Trump is a huge headache for Deutsche. But the bank has plenty more.," 7 July 2019 The panel has also subpoenaed Mr. McGahn, who has refused to appear. Siobhan Hughes, WSJ, "Former White House Official to Avoid Congressional Testimony for Now," 22 June 2019 The office declined to comment to the AP The Brooklyn attorney’s office also has reportedly subpoenaed the Kushner Cos. over a visa-for-investment program to raise money from Chinese investors for its real estate projects. Time, "Kushner Companies Has Been Subpoenaed as Part of a Probe Into False Housing Paperwork," 21 Apr. 2018 Agents also subpoenaed records of New York City taxi medallions that Cohen owns, according to CNN. Greg Farrell, Bloomberg.com, "Trump’s Alleged Affairs Become a Legal Threat After Raid on His Lawyer," 10 Apr. 2018 Earlier this week, the House Homeland Security Committee subpoenaed Watkins to testify at a hearing in September. Makena Kelly, The Verge, "Beto O’Rourke seeks new limits on Section 230 as part of gun violence proposal," 16 Aug. 2019 Weeks later, investigators subpoenaed more records, this time from the state Department of Revenue and its Tax Division, about the resolution of a multimillion-dollar tax debt related to the governor’s businesses. Ken Ward Jr., ProPublica, "Welcome to the Greenbrier, the Governor-Owned Luxury Resort Filled With Conflicts of Interest," 15 Aug. 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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Statistics for subpoena

Last Updated

5 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for subpoena

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

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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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