war·​rant | \ˈwȯr-ənt, ˈwär-\

Definition of warrant 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : sanction, authorization also : evidence for or token of authorization

(2) : guarantee, security

2a : a commission or document giving authority to do something especially : a writing that authorizes a person to pay or deliver to another and the other to receive money or other consideration

b : a precept or writ issued by a competent magistrate authorizing an officer to make an arrest, a seizure, or a search or to do other acts incident to the administration of justice

c : an official certificate of appointment issued to an officer of lower rank than a commissioned officer

d(1) : a short-term obligation of a governmental body (such as a municipality) issued in anticipation of revenue

(2) : an instrument issued by a corporation giving to the holder the right to purchase the stock of the corporation at a stated price either prior to a stipulated date or at any future time


warranted; warranting; warrants

Definition of warrant (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to declare or maintain with certainty : be sure that I'll warrant he'll be here by noon

b : to assure (a person) of the truth of what is said

2a : to guarantee to a person good title to and undisturbed possession of (something, such as an estate)

b : to provide a guarantee of the security of (something, such as title to property sold) usually by an express covenant in the deed of conveyance

c : to guarantee to be as represented

d : to guarantee (something, such as goods sold) especially in respect of the quality or quantity specified

3 : to guarantee security or immunity to : secure I'll warrant him from drowning— William Shakespeare

4 : to give warrant or sanction to : authorize the law warrants this procedure

5a : to give proof of the authenticity or truth of

b : to give assurance of the nature of or for the undertaking of : guarantee

6 : to serve as or give adequate ground or reason for promising enough to warrant further consideration

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Other Words from warrant


warrantless \ ˈwȯr-​ənt-​ləs , ˈwär-​ \ adjective

Examples of warrant in a Sentence


The police had a warrant for his arrest. There was no warrant for such behavior.


The writing was poor, but it hardly warrants that kind of insulting criticism. The punishment he received was not warranted.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Was that information then fed inappropriately to the Pfizer court in order to obtain warrants? Fox News, "Rudy Giuliani: Strzok's defense is ridiculous, pathetic," 13 July 2018 In May, the FBI obtained an arrest warrant for Mims for unlawful avoidance of prosecution. Deasia Paige, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan murder suspect is on FBI's 10 most wanted list," 27 June 2018 Police had obtained a warrant to listen to Liszka’s phone calls, and a selection were played in court. Clifford Ward, chicagotribune.com, "Man convicted of drug-induced homicide 'mortified' by role in overdose death," 26 June 2018 Police obtained a warrant to search the vehicle and found paperwork from a muffler store linking it to Davis-Johnson, a bag of marijuana, two bottles of codeine, men’s jewelry and $2,957. Stephen Hudak, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Parents of UCF student sue sheriff, deputy, suspect for wrongful death in high-speed fatal crash," 25 June 2018 Trump and congressional Republicans have charged that the research in the dossier, paid for by Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, was used inappropriately to obtain the warrant on Page. Mary Clare Jalonick, Anchorage Daily News, "DOJ gives Congress new classified documents on Russia probe," 24 June 2018 In a major decision on privacy in the digital age, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 ruling today that police must obtain a warrant to obtain cellphone location records. Colin Lecher, The Verge, "Supreme Court decides against warrantless location searches in a major privacy decision," 22 June 2018 Detectives with the Miami-Dade Police Department obtained an arrest warrant for Hernandez-Caseres and he was apprehended at his home in Miami. Martin Vassolo, miamiherald, "Undocumented immigrant killed two women in Miami, dumped bodies on street, police say," 18 June 2018 Detectives obtained a warrant Thursday to arrest Miller for one count of first-degree murder and one count of domestic violence/attempted murder. Bayan Wang, azcentral, "Officials: Man suspected of murder in Tucson arrested in Phoenix Friday," 10 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Given the district's progress under Pollio's leadership, a full-blown state intervention isn't warranted, Brady said. Phillip M. Bailey, The Courier-Journal, "Lawyer: JCPS can say state education board is biased in takeover fight," 2 May 2018 With regard to the forest preserve, the church does not believe additional planting is warranted and this is suppported by the photographs taken by the DSC arborist. Jeff Forward, Houston Chronicle, "Woodlands panel imposes deadlines, guidelines for St. Anthony church improvements," 10 June 2018 This may seem excessive, but trust, it’s warranted. Carla Ciccone, Bon Appetit, "The “Italians Mad at Food” Twitter Account Is Too Real to My Life," 7 May 2018 These interstitial monologues were fascinatingly bizarre, full of aimless asides and mildly humorous observations at which the worshipful crowd always laughed slightly louder than was warranted. Terence Cawley, BostonGlobe.com, "At the Wang, a free-wheeling journey through Neil Young’s past," 12 July 2018 The time difference between staff and faculty decisions is largely because the Academic Senate determines what consequences are warranted in faculty cases, university officials said. Jill Tucker, SFChronicle.com, "State audit finds lengthy, inconsistent handling of harassment claims by UC," 21 June 2018 Now looking back, there’s solid evidence to believe that this particular criticism was warranted, because President Trump and Jerry go way back. refinery29.com, "How Charlotte Jones Anderson Became The NFL's "Ivanka Trump"," 15 June 2018 During the hearing, attorneys and U.S. District Court Judge J.P. Stadtmueller said prison time was warranted to deter others from dipping into their employers' coffers. Cary Spivak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Ex-Johnson Controls executive sentenced to 32 months for masterminding $4 million embezzlement," 15 June 2018 To keep them coming back for more, sports administrators tend to be intolerant of public criticism by coaches, executives and athletes, even when that criticism is warranted. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "NCAA's lash leaves no mark on U of L's women's coach Jeff Walz," 26 May 2018

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for warrant


Middle English waraunt protector, warrant, from Anglo-French warant, garant, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German werēnto guarantor, werēn to warrant; akin to Old High German wāra trust, care — more at very entry 2


Middle English, waranten to act as protector, guarantee, from Anglo-French warentir, garantir, from warant

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Statistics for warrant

Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for warrant

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

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More Definitions for warrant



Financial Definition of warrant

What It Is

Warrants are securities that give the holder the right, but not the obligation, to buy a certain number of securities (usually the issuer's common stock) at a certain price before a certain time. Warrants are not the same as call options or stock purchase rights.

How It Works

Occasionally, companies offer warrants for direct sale or give them to employees as incentive, but the vast majority of warrants are "attached" to newly issued bonds or preferred stock.

For example, if Company XYZ issues bonds with warrants attached, each bondholder might get a $1,000 face-value bond and the right to purchase 100 shares of Company XYZ stock at $20 per share over the next five years. Warrants usually permit the holder to purchase common stock of the issuer, but sometimes they allow the purchaser to buy the stock or bonds of another entity (such as a subsidiary or even a third party).

The price at which a warrant holder can purchase the underlying securities is called the exercise price or strike price. The exercise price is usually higher than the market price of the stock at the time of the warrant's issuance. In our example, the exercise price is $20, which is 15% higher than what Company XYZ stock was trading at when the bonds were issued. The warrant's exercise price often rises according to a schedule as the bond matures. This schedule is set forth in the bond indenture.

One important characteristic of warrants is that they are often detachable. That is, if an investor holds a bond with attached warrants, he or she can sell the warrants and keep the bond. Warrants are traded on the major exchanges. In some cases, where warrants have been issued with preferred stock, stockholders may not receive a dividend as long as they hold the warrant as well. Thus, it is sometimes advantageous to detach and sell a warrant as soon as possible so the investor can earn dividends.

If the price of the stock is above the exercise price of the warrant, the warrant must have what is known as a minimum value. For example, consider the warrants to purchase 100 shares of Company XYZ for $20 per share anytime in the next five years. If Company XYZ shares rose to $40 during that time, the warrant holder could purchase the shares for $20 each, and immediately sell them for $40 on the open market, pocketing a profit of ($40 - $20) x 100 shares = $2,000. Thus, the minimum value of each warrant is $20.

It is important to note, however, that if the warrants still had a long time before they expired, investors might speculate that the price of Company XYZ stock could go even higher than $100 per share. This speculation, accompanied by the extra time for the stock to rise further, is why a warrant with a minimum value of $20 could easily trade above $20. But as the warrant gets closer to expiring (and the chances of the stock price rising in time to further increase profits get smaller), that premium would shrink until it equaled the minimum value of the warrant (which could be $0 if the stock price falls to below $20).

Why It Matters

Warrants are not the same as call options. Call options are not detachable and they often have a shorter shelf life than warrants do (usually less than a year, versus five or more for warrants). They are also not the same as convertible securities, where the holder uses the principal of one security to purchase another security (usually a bond issuer's stock). For example, if the Company XYZ bond were a convertible bond, the holder could trade the bond's $1,000 par value for a number of Company XYZ shares. But if the Company XYZ bond has a warrant attached, the investor must come up with additional money to purchase the shares at the exercise price (in this case 100 shares x $20 per share, or $2,000).

Warrants are also not the same as stock purchase rights. The exercise price of a stock purchase right is usually below the underlying security's market price at the time of issuance, whereas warrant exercise prices are typically 15% above market price at the time of issuance. Also, companies often issue stock purchase rights only to existing shareholders, and they also have very short lives--generally two to four weeks.

Securities with attached warrants allow their holder to participate in the price appreciation of the underlying security (Company XYZ common stock, in our example). This is because the higher the minimum value of the attached warrant, the higher the value of the bond or preferred shares. For example, the price of a Company XYZ bond with a warrant attached tends to rise as the price of Company XYZ common stock approaches the exercise price (similar to a call option).

This opportunity to participate in the upside of another security (albeit usually with the same company) gives investors a little diversification and thus is a way to mitigate risk. As a result, companies often issue bonds and preferred stock with warrants attached as a way to enhance the demand and marketability of the offering. This in turn lowers the cost of raising capital for the issuer.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of warrant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

law : a document issued by a court that gives the police the power to do something

: a reason for thinking, deciding, or doing something



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

: to require or deserve (something)

: to make a legal promise that a statement is true

: to give a guarantee or warranty for (a product)


war·​rant | \ˈwȯr-ənt \

Kids Definition of warrant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a reason or cause for an opinion or action There is no warrant for such behavior.

2 : a document giving legal power “Hold that man,” … “I have a warrant for his arrest.”— Richard and Florence Atwater, Mr. Popper's Penguins


warranted; warranting

Kids Definition of warrant (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to be sure of or that I'll warrant they know the answer.

2 : guarantee entry 2 sense 1 The toaster is warranted for 90 days.

3 : to call for : justify The report warrants careful study.

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war·​rant | \ˈwȯr-ənt, ˈwär- \

Legal Definition of warrant 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : warranty sense 2 an implied warrant of fitness

2 : a commission or document giving authority to do something: as

a : an order from one person (as an official) to another to pay public funds to a designated person

b : a writ issued especially by a judicial official (as a magistrate) authorizing an officer (as a sheriff) to perform a specified act required for the administration of justice a warrant of arrest by warrant of commitment

administrative warrant

: a warrant (as for an administrative search) issued by a judge upon application of an administrative agency

anticipatory search warrant

: a search warrant that is issued on the basis of an affidavit showing probable cause that there will be certain evidence at a specific location at a future time

called also anticipatory warrant

arrest warrant

: a warrant issued to a law enforcement officer ordering the officer to arrest and bring the person named in the warrant before the court or a magistrate

Note: A criminal arrest warrant must be issued based upon probable cause. Not all arrests require an arrest warrant.

bench warrant

: a warrant issued by a judge for the arrest of a person who is in contempt of court or indicted

death warrant

: a warrant issued to a warden or other prison official to carry out a sentence of death

dispossessory warrant \ ˌdis-​pə-​ˈze-​sə-​rē-​ \

: a warrant issued to evict someone (as a lessee) from real property used especially in Georgia

distress warrant

: a warrant ordering the distress of property and specifying which items of property are to be distrained

extradition warrant

: a warrant for the extradition of a fugitive specifically : rendition warrant in this entry

fugitive warrant

: an arrest warrant issued in one jurisdiction for someone who is a fugitive from another jurisdiction

called also fugitive from justice warrant

general warrant

: a warrant that is unconstitutional because it fails to state with sufficient particularity the place or person to be searched or things to be seized

material witness warrant

: a warrant issued for the arrest of a material witness to prevent the witness from fleeing without giving testimony

no-knock search warrant

: a search warrant allowing law enforcement officers to enter premises without prior announcement in order to prevent destruction of evidence (as illegal drugs) or harm to the officers — compare exigent circumstances

rendition warrant

: a warrant issued by an official (as a governor) in one jurisdiction (as a state) for the extradition of a fugitive in that jurisdiction to another that is requesting the extradition

search warrant

: a warrant authorizing law enforcement officers to conduct a search of a place (as a house or vehicle) or person and usually also to seize evidence

called also search and seizure warrant

Note: The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that a search warrant for a criminal investigation be issued only upon a showing of probable cause, as established usually by a sworn affidavit. The search warrant has to specify the premises and persons to be searched as well as what is being searched for. Not all searches require a search warrant. Warrantless searches are permitted when they are of a kind that the courts have found to be reasonable (as by being limited) or when they are prompted by a level of suspicion or belief (as reasonable suspicion or probable cause) that is consistent with the level of intrusion of the search. Some searches have been found to be so intrusive that a court hearing is required before the search is permitted.

3a : a short-term obligation of a governmental body (as a municipality) issued in anticipation of revenue

b : an instrument issued by a corporation giving to the holder the right to purchase the capital stock of the corporation at a stated price either prior to a stipulated date or at any future time stock warrant — compare subscription

Other Words from warrant

warrantless adjective


transitive verb

Legal Definition of warrant (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to guarantee especially by giving assurances that make one liable or responsible: as

a : to give a warranty (as of title) to

b : to protect or assure by warranty the warranted goods an assignor is not liable for defaults of the obligor and does not warrant his solvencyRestatement (Second) of Contracts

c : to state as a warranty : guarantee to be as represented the seller warrants that the car is without defects expressly warranted “prior endorsements guaranteed”— J. J. White and R. S. Summers

2a : to authorize by a warrant a warranted search

b : to serve as or give adequate reason or authorization for warranted the awarding of attorney's fees was not warranted by the facts

3 : to give proof of the authenticity or truth of a formally warranted statement

History and Etymology for warrant


Anglo-French warant garant protector, guarantor, authority, authorization, of Germanic origin

Transitive verb

Anglo-French warentir garantir, from garant protector, guarantor

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