\ ˈrit How to pronounce writ (audio) \

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 runoutside 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 The defendants could file motions on other grounds, but their request for a Supreme Court writ was viewed as the last significant impediment to a trial. Henry Schulman, SFChronicle.com, "Ex-Giants prospect wins Supreme Court go-ahead for minor-league salary trial," 5 Oct. 2020 Before granting the writ Friday, the Supreme Court on Sept. 17 issued a stay of the gag order, pending further review by the court. Joseph Flaherty, Arkansas Online, "High court invalidates gag order," 26 Sep. 2020 After six months of no rent, Solomonic now has a writ of possession, and his tenant has been ordered to vacate the property. Michael Taylor, ExpressNews.com, "Taylor: A wave of evictions, bankruptcies and lawsuits is coming," 23 Sep. 2020 According to a writ filed by D.H. Daniel, a peace officer, the summons was never served. Anchorage Daily News, "Her stepfather admitted to sexually abusing her. That wasn’t enough to keep her safe.," 18 Sep. 2020 The recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, which found Trump leading Biden on drug pricing, also found that health care writ large was the fifth-most important issue for voters this election cycle. Nicholas Florko, STAT, "Trump’s last-ditch drug pricing moves could help him in November. But they likely won’t save Americans money," 15 Sep. 2020 The writ had ordered Judge Emmet Sullivan to grant the Justice Department’s request to dismiss... The Editorial Board, WSJ, "More Torture for Michael Flynn," 1 Sep. 2020 In the case of vacancies in the House, governors can issue a writ of election to fill those vacancies, according to the report. Ella Lee, USA TODAY, "Fact check: President Pelosi? No, House speaker wouldn't assume role amid election delay," 8 Aug. 2020 Reflecting on foreign election interference and influence operations, under an umbrella of digital threats to democracy writ large, Gordon comes back to transparency. Justin Sherman, Wired, "How the US Can Prevent the Next ‘Cyber 9/11’," 6 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for writ

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for writ

Last Updated

14 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Writ.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/writ. Accessed 23 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for writ


How to pronounce writ (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of writ

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


\ ˈrit How to pronounce writ (audio) \

Kids Definition of writ

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


\ ˈrit How to pronounce writ (audio) \

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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