writ

noun
\ˈrit \

Definition of writ 

1 : something written : writing Sacred Writ

2a : a formal written document specifically : a legal instrument in epistolary form issued under seal in the name of the English monarch

b : 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

c : 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 run— Dean 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

Initially, Bolton considered organizing the show around the influence of five major religions on fashion writ large. Shira Telushkin, Washington Post, "High church meets high fashion: How Catholic style took over the Met," 3 May 2018 Stitt was at the ready to file writs by the end of the day should the clients not appear. Kristina Davis, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Problems getting detainees to court on time magnified under 'zero-tolerance' immigration crackdown," 24 June 2018 The Association of Cannabis Professionals asked the court to issue a writ of mandate so that Imperial Beach accepts the petitions. Gustavo Solis, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Imperial Beach to vote on marijuana regulations in June," 31 May 2018 There was some expectation among Republican establishment types in the wake of Trump's victory that GOP voters had gotten that --Trumpism, broadly writ -- out of their system. Chris Cillizza, CNN, "Tuesday's results show the dangers of crossing Donald Trump," 13 June 2018 The City of Milwaukee Arts Board named Tia one of its 2018 artists of the year, and evidence of her skill at bringing people together to collectively design and create something beautiful is writ large throughout the city. Crocker Stephenson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Better Angels: Tia Richardson's newest mural is one neighborhood's vision of better things to come," 5 July 2018 Stitt filed habeas writs and argued for their presentment in a Thursday hearing before Chief U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz. Kristina Davis, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Problems getting detainees to court on time magnified under 'zero-tolerance' immigration crackdown," 24 June 2018 This guy is a hands-on, community organizing, writ large activist. Fox News, "David Limbaugh, Andy McCarthy break down the Mueller probe," 4 June 2018 The British political system still doesn’t seem to have internalized that for the EU, protecting its legal order also means enforcing free movement of citizens, the indivisibility of goods and services and the writ of the ECJ. Simon Nixon, WSJ, "Brexit Britain Needs to Learn the Language of the EU," 27 June 2018

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

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

History and Etymology for writ

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

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Last Updated

25 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for writ

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

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More Definitions for writ

writ

noun

English Language Learners Definition of writ

law : a document from a court ordering someone to do something or not to do something

writ

noun
\ˈrit \

Kids Definition of writ

: an order in writing signed by an officer of a court ordering someone to do or not to do something

writ

noun
\ˈrit \

Legal Definition of writ 

1 : a letter that was issued in the name of the English monarch from Anglo-Saxon times to declare his grants, wishes, and commands

2 : 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

1 : 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

2 : 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

1 : a common-law writ formerly used to restore property held by another to its rightful owner

2 : a writ granted as a matter of right — compare extraordinary writ in this entry

History and Etymology for writ

Old English, something written

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