\ 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 These businesses are going to experience the brunt of the effects of social distancing, as tourism and public life writ large is curtailed for the foreseeable future. Mark Engler, The New Republic, "The Case for a Social Distancing Wage," 16 Mar. 2020 Besides impacting the school and its students, the conference has become important to the city of Philadelphia writ large. Regan Stephens, Fortune, "This university conference gathers the best chefs in the world in Philadelphia," 28 Feb. 2020 That’s a stark contrast to the past 16 years, during which the government sought only eight stays total, four reviews before judgment, and no mandamus writs. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Justice Sotomayor calls out the US Supreme Court in a sharp dissent," 22 Feb. 2020 That election must be held on the 46th day after the governor’s issuance of the writ of election. Daniela Altimari, courant.com, "State Rep. Linda Orange to resign from legislature after cancer diagnosis," 8 Nov. 2019 Today, Castillo’s first task is executing a writ of possession. Marina Starleaf Riker, ExpressNews.com, "‘They never end’ — evictions start when the constable shows up," 5 Dec. 2019 Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins and Andrew Stewart were granted a writ of innocence after being convicted of first-degree murder of a middle school student, DeWitt Duckett. Anna Sturla, CNN, "Baltimore men freed after 1983 wrongful conviction," 26 Nov. 2019 Deputies who want to contest the commission typically must file a writ in court and wait for a judge to evaluate the findings. Matt Stiles, Los Angeles Times, "Judge overturns Sheriff Villanueva’s rehiring of a fired L.A. County deputy," 19 Aug. 2019 After the five days, landlords can file for the writ of possession. San Antonio Express-News, "Are you struggling to pay rent, facing an eviction or need help paying your bills?," 7 Jan. 2015

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

28 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Writ.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/writ. Accessed 5 Apr. 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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More from Merriam-Webster on writ

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for writ

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with writ

Spanish Central: Translation of writ

Nglish: Translation of writ for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of writ for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about writ

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