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 Under a family safety program, the company’s system automatically detects car accidents and summons help., 17 June 2021 And with that, Katie summons Aaron for another one-on-one chat. Kristen Baldwin,, 15 June 2021 Those could include expenditures on court reporters, filing fees, charges for serving summons and hiring experts. Martin E. Comas,, 15 June 2021 In the scene, Mr. Beatty’s character summons Howard Beale (Peter Finch), the unstable anchorman who has just had an on-air meltdown, into the corporate boardroom and draws the curtains. New York Times, 13 June 2021 Fairfield Police Chief Robert Kalamaras confirmed that the student implicated was issued a juvenile summons but referred CNN to the Superior Court of Connecticut juvenile court, which declined to comment, for any further details. Alec Snyder, CNN, 21 May 2021 Once, the ring of the telephone was considered an imperative summons. Washington Post, 8 June 2021 Weatherization of power plants will only happen under SB3 if the PUC does what the legislature was unable to do and summons the political will to force it to happen. David Blackmon, Forbes, 31 May 2021 Suspects charged via summons are typically booked and released the same day. Chao Xiong, Star Tribune, 18 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 The word Serengeti accurately summons images of vast golden plains, cheetahs sitting atop termite mounds, and hundreds of wildebeests plunging into the waters of the Mara River as part of their Great Migration. Heather Richardson, Travel + Leisure, 17 May 2021 Zoya, who had family in West Ravka, summons the wind again to get the skiff moving forward against Kirigan’s orders, and when another Grisha steps in to stop her, Inej attacks. Olivia Truffaut-wong,, 27 Apr. 2021 The sequence in which Rubio’s mother summons her son to return shows this disruption in the most dramatic instant of the film. Sheena Scott, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2021 As the fighters continue their campaign of destroying the Earth with their bombs and chaos, the mom summons the strength from her connection to Mother Earth and becomes the personification of justice against the fighters. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 16 Apr. 2021 That heightens the senses, that intensifies the ambiance, that summons the goose bumps. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Apr. 2021 During the séance, Madame Arcati summons the spirit of Charles’ first wife, Elvira (Mann), who perished in a riding accident. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 19 Feb. 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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for summons

Last Updated

22 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Summons.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for summons



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


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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