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 Most of those stopped were young and Black; almost all had been acting lawfully, walking away without an arrest or summons. ProPublica, "Over a Dozen Black and Latino Men Accused a Cop of Humiliating, Invasive Strip Searches. The NYPD Kept Promoting Him.," 10 Sep. 2020 The journey was an awakening – a sudden confrontation with the country’s size, a summons to imagine lives nothing like mine in places nothing like my own. Michael S. Hopkins, The Christian Science Monitor, "Travels with Maybell: Looking for ‘normal’ in an RV," 4 Sep. 2020 On Monday the court restarted the process, sending out jury summons to some 900 people, said Presiding Judge Lorna Alksne. Greg Moran, San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego Superior Court to resume trials with new safety procedures in October," 1 Sep. 2020 In a segment on juries, Oliver highlighted issues that left residents in Hartford and New Britain off the rolls for federal jury duty summons that were noted in an Iowa Law Review report. Nicholas Rondinone,, "‘Last Week Tonight’ host John Oliver promises $55K in charitable donations if Danbury renames sewage plant in his honor," 31 Aug. 2020 Prospective jurors are being asked to notify the jury pool coordinator if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 30 days, are caring with someone with COVID-19 or will be self-quarantining on their summons date. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Pandemic Panda-mania, USS Missouri, virtual book fair: News from around our 50 states," 24 Aug. 2020 If the tenant doesn’t pay the back rent in that time, the landlord can file a complaint in court and the tenant will be served a summons. Caroline Glenn,, "Flood of eviction filings expected after DeSantis quietly changes Florida’s moratorium wording," 5 Aug. 2020 The Berea Municipal Court sent the suspect a summons. cleveland, "Suspect stuffs stolen cell phone into her pants: Middleburg Heights Police Blotter," 8 July 2020 Indiana grand juries are made up of six jurors who are called to serve through a summons, just as a normal juror would be for a trial. Elizabeth Depompei, The Indianapolis Star, "Grand jury requested in Dreasjon Reed investigation. Here's how a grand jury works.," 21 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb At a consultation, Korda even summons his courage to ask point-blank about the ten-year survival rates of his patients. Virginia Heffernan, Wired, "Steely Eyes, Tragic Ends: The Bromantic Theory of History," 26 Aug. 2020 But Pearl, now living in Orlando’s 55 West building, summons her sisters to a Zoom meeting for a very important announcement. Matthew J. Palm,, "Let’s look forward, Orlando: Wanzie’s ‘Ladies,’ Grammy celebration, a ‘Great Comet’ and Cirque," 5 Aug. 2020 The nine-episode limited series, created by Mad Men writer Dahvi Waller, summons the fractious ’70s through the evenhanded handiwork of a design team keenly attuned to the telling details of home, hair, and wardrobe. Hugh Hart, Fortune, "How ‘Mrs. America’ designers revived a ’70s feminist showdown," 14 Apr. 2020 Sara Lipstate) summons the tones of bells, choirs, orchestras, calliopes and distant tsunamis. Jon Pareles, New York Times, "Lil Yachty featuring Drake and DaBaby, ‘Oprah’s Bank Account’," 13 Mar. 2020 And this is a guy who during games works harder and summons more emotion than most of his players. Scott Ostler,, "Bring on the Packers: 49ers’ Super Bowl dreams fueled by high-voltage energy," 12 Jan. 2020 Doubtful that Lucic summons any substantial scoring touch at this age (31)., "Namestnikov couldn’t make it in NY," 6 Oct. 2019 The Emperor grows stronger after sucking the life-force from Rey and Ben, sending young Solo careening over a crevasse, but Rey summons the collective power of the Jedi to disintegrate her bad granddad. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Spoilers! The 5 most fist-pumping moments in 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'," 22 Dec. 2019 He will be summonsed to appear in Orleans District Court to face charges of operating to endanger, operating after license suspension, and an over-height violation, State Police said in a statement., "The driver , identified only as a 41-year-old Brockton man, was not injured.," 8 Dec. 2019

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for summons

Last Updated

13 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Summons.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for summons


How to pronounce summons (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of summons

 (Entry 1 of 2)

law : 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)

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


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
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

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