sum·​mons | \ ˈsə-mənz How to pronounce summons (audio) \
plural summonses

Definition of summons

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the act of summoning especially : a call by authority to appear at a place named or to attend to a duty
2 : a warning or citation to appear in court: such as
a : a written notification to be served on a person as a warning to appear in court at a day specified to answer to the plaintiff
b : a subpoena to appear as a witness
3 : something (such as a call) that summons


summonsed; summonsing; summonses

Definition of summons (Entry 2 of 2)

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Synonyms for summons

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of summons in a Sentence

Noun The judge issued a summons. He received a royal summons.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun With Munshi Zawar Hussein off in Lahore to deliver the summons, Sohel did nothing all day. Daniyal Mueenuddin, The New Yorker, 31 Aug. 2021 His father wound up signing the court summons and he was taken to the Bedford Jail to sober up. Thomas Jewell, cleveland, 31 July 2021 Carley was charged by summons, declined to comment and her attorney was not immediately available to respond to the allegations. Paul Walsh, Star Tribune, 6 July 2021 In the absence of such ceremonies, however, is the summons to respond to the fallout from Afghanistan. Noël Lipana, The Christian Science Monitor, 30 Aug. 2021 Albert Kuehne responded to the scene of a one-car accident and detained a driver on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, according to the complaint summons filed last June. Carma Hassan, CNN, 10 June 2021 Louissant was issued a summons to be arraigned in Quincy District Court., 16 Aug. 2021 On Tuesday, the Delhi Commission for Women issued a summons for police to appear before the commission on Thursday, and to provide the relevant case documents. Jessie Yeung, CNN, 5 Aug. 2021 They will both be issued summons to appear in court at a later date, officials said. Ivan Pereira, ABC News, 3 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb With The Artful Escape, Galvatron summons the magic of space glam rock without dwelling on the particulars of musicianship. Cecilia D'anastasio, Wired, 8 Sep. 2021 These changes cannot overcome the laws of physics, of course, but the circa-5,000lb DBX summons a convincing impression of a sports car when pointed at the right road. Alistair Charlton, Forbes, 31 Aug. 2021 Anthony’s growing artistic success based on the Candyman legend, of course, eventually summons the Candyman himself, and plenty of inventive murder sequences involving mirrors are sprinkled throughout the film. David Sims, The Atlantic, 25 Aug. 2021 But after King Arthur (Sean Harris) summons him to sit alongside his throne, Gawain haphazardly throws himself into the pursuit of honor, joining the Green Knight's game. Jake Coyle, Star Tribune, 28 July 2021 The friend summons a self-driving car, tosses the backpacking items into the autonomous vehicle, and the self-driving car comes straight to your home. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 7 July 2021 There’s a brief reprieve when Oliver summons George Clooney with the snap of his fingers, but mostly, this segment plays like The Big Short 2: Even Bigger Shorts. Rebecca Alter, Vulture, 21 June 2021 And then there was the continental fin de siècle, which summons up images of cancan dancers, Impressionist paintings, and opulent Viennese coffeehouses. David A. Bell, The New York Review of Books, 15 June 2021 That leaves his grieving widow alone with a newborn — when even the smallest noise summons certain death, is there a more dangerous accessory than a wailing, unpredictable infant? Leah Greenblatt,, 18 May 2021

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1659, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for summons


Middle English somouns, from Anglo-French somonse, from past participle of somondre

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Time Traveler for summons

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The first known use of summons was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near summons



summons case

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Last Updated

14 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Summons.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for summons



English Language Learners Definition of summons

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an official order to appear in a court of law
: an official order to appear at a particular place



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

: to order (someone) to appear in a court of law : summon


sum·​mons | \ ˈsə-mənz How to pronounce summons (audio) \
plural summonses

Kids Definition of summons

1 : the act of calling or sending for
2 : a call by authority to appear at a place named or to attend to some duty a royal summons
3 : a written order to appear in court


sum·​mons | \ ˈsə-mənz How to pronounce summons (audio) \
plural summonses\ -​mən-​zəz \

Legal Definition of summons

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a written notification that one is required to appear in court: as
a : a document in a civil suit that is issued by an authorized judicial officer (as a clerk of court) and delivered to a plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney for service on the defendant and that notifies the defendant that he or she must appear and defend (as by filing an answer) within a specified time or a default judgment will be rendered for the plaintiff
b : a document that summons a defendant to appear before a court to answer a minor criminal charge and that is issued in lieu of a warrant for arrest by an authorized judicial officer (as a magistrate) upon request of a prosecuting attorney
c : a notification to appear for jury service
d : a notification to appear as a witness — see also john doe summons, service — compare subpoena


transitive verb
summonsed\ -​mənzd \; summonsing\ -​mən-​ziŋ \

Legal Definition of summons (Entry 2 of 2)

: summon especially : to bring into court by a summons hereby summonsed to serve as a trial juror

More from Merriam-Webster on summons

Nglish: Translation of summons for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of summons for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about summons


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