: something written : writing
Sacred Writ
: a formal written document
specifically : a legal instrument in epistolary form issued under seal in the name of the English monarch
: an order or mandatory process in writing issued in the name of the sovereign or of a court or judicial officer commanding the person to whom it is directed to perform or refrain from performing an act specified therein
writ of detinue
writ of entry
writ of execution
: the power and authority of the issuer of such a written order
usually used with run
outside the United States where … our writ does not runDean Acheson

Examples of writ in a Sentence

The judge issued a writ of habeas corpus. He was served with a writ.
Recent Examples on the Web By contrast, small companies tend to perform best when economic growth is accelerating because there’s more of a risk-on environment writ large and tend to struggle when investors are more uncertain. Bryan Mena, CNN, 18 Feb. 2024 In March 2020, Jackson County Circuit Court temporarily suspended the issuance of writs for two months to protect the health of the public and court employees. Kacen Bayless, Kansas City Star, 13 Feb. 2024 But rather than zero in on the seizure of Carollo’s home on Morris Lane, his lawyers argue that the writ should be put on hold until there is a thorough inventory of the commissioner’s personal property in the residence that could be seized by the U.S. Marshals. Rebecca San Juan, Miami Herald, 3 Feb. 2024 An apologia writ in hair about what happens when a muscular intellect is married to frail corporate governance. Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, 27 Oct. 2023 The great tragic condition, writ very small, precisely as Miller intended. Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, 13 Sep. 2023 The millennial aesthetic is famously minimalist, and the tiny home was minimalism writ large—meaning very, very small. Alena Botros, Fortune, 28 Jan. 2024 Social media may be able to create national conversations, but those conversations have to be about something, and Hollywood, writ large, often provides that something. Peter Biskind, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 Jan. 2024 The complete emotional range of a Greek melodrama seemed to be writ across Hunter Schafer’s face at Schiaparelli’s haute couture autumn/winter 2024 show. Daniel Rodgers, Vogue, 23 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'writ.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old English wrītan to write

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of writ was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near writ

Cite this Entry

“Writ.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/writ. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: something written : writing
Holy Writ
: a written legal order signed by a court officer

Legal Definition


: a letter that was issued in the name of the English monarch from Anglo-Saxon times to declare his grants, wishes, and commands
: an order or mandatory process in writing issued in the name of the sovereign or of a court or judicial officer commanding the person to whom it is directed to perform or refrain from performing a specified act

Note: The writ was a vital official instrument in the old common law of England. A plaintiff commenced a suit at law by choosing the proper form of action and obtaining a writ appropriate to the remedy sought; its issuance forced the defendant to comply or to appear in court and defend. Writs were also in constant use for financial and political purposes of government. While the writ no longer governs civil pleading and has lost many of its applications, the extraordinary writs especially of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, and certiorari indicate its historical importance as an instrument of judicial authority.

alias writ
: a writ issued upon the failure of a previous one
alternative writ
: a writ commanding one to perform a mandated act or else to show cause why the act need not be performed compare peremptory writ in this entry
extraordinary writ
: a writ granted as an extraordinary remedy at the discretion of the court in its jurisdiction over officials or inferior tribunals

called also prerogative writ

see also certiorari, habeas corpus, mandamus, procedendo, prohibition, quo warranto compare writ of right in this entry

Note: Extraordinary writs were originally writs exercised by royal prerogative.

judicial writ
: a writ issued by a court under its own seal for judicial purposes in the course of a proceeding or to enforce a judgment compare original writ in this entry
original writ
: a writ formerly used in England that issued out of chancery as the means of bringing a suit and defendant before the court compare judicial writ in this entry

Note: The original writ was superseded by the summons in 1873.

peremptory writ
: a writ (as of mandamus) that presents an absolute order without the alternative to show cause a peremptory writ of prohibition compare alternative writ in this entry
prerogative writ \ pri-​ˈrä-​gə-​tiv-​ \
: extraordinary writ in this entry
writ of assistance
: a writ issued to a law officer (as a sheriff or marshal) for the enforcement of a court order or decree
especially : one used to enforce an order for the possession of lands
: a writ provided for under British rule in colonial America that authorized customs officers to search unspecified places for any smuggled goods

Note: Many colonial courts refused to issue writs of assistance, which were a focus of bitter resentment against arbitrary searches and seizures. Opposition to such writs inspired the provision in the U.S. Constitution requiring that a search warrant describe with particularity the place and items to be searched.

writ of coram nobis
: writ of error coram nobis in this entry
writ of error
: a common-law writ directing an inferior court to remit the record of an action to the reviewing court in order that an error of law may be corrected if it exists

Note: The writ of error has been largely abolished and superseded by the appeal.

writ of error coram nobis
: a writ calling the attention of the trial court to facts which do not appear on the record despite the exercise of reasonable diligence by the defendant and which if known and established at the time a judgment was rendered would have resulted in a different judgment petitioned for a writ of error coram nobis on the ground that newly discovered evidence exonerated him

called also coram nobis, writ of coram nobis

writ of right
: a common-law writ formerly used to restore property held by another to its rightful owner
: a writ granted as a matter of right compare extraordinary writ in this entry

Old English, something written

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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