pe·​ti·​tion | \ pə-ˈti-shən How to pronounce petition (audio) \
plural petitions

Definition of petition

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a formal written request made to an authority or organized body (such as a court) filing a petition for divorce Her defense lawyer had petitioned the court to videotape Scott's testimony about Hearst before he died, but the petition was denied.— Robert Lipsyte
b : a written request or call for change signed by many people in support of a shared cause or concern Hundreds of contributors and readers signed a petition circulated by the National Book Critics Circle, urging the Post to save the stand-alone section.— Motoko Rich Her group put together a petition signed by more than 100,000 consumers demanding that regulators crack down on companies who "robocall" consumers using automated dialers and recorded voices to market scams.— Shawn Zeller
2 : an earnest request : entreaty … he begged to sleep with Hareton, and his petition was granted for once.— Emily Brontë
3 : something asked or requested


petitioned; petitioning\ pə-​ˈti-​sh(ə-​)niŋ How to pronounce petition (audio) \; petitions

Definition of petition (Entry 2 of 2)

1 transitive : to make a request to (someone) especially : to make a formal written request to (an authority) His people petitioned the government for permission to use the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. — Taylor Branch … to adopt "red-flag" laws, which allow police officers and family members to petition a court to bar dangerous individuals from possessing guns. — Norman J. Ornstein
2 intransitive : to make a request She neither petitioned for her right nor claimed it.— George Meredith especially : to make a formal written request A year later he moved to Rome and petitioned to join the Jesuits, who gave him a university education and ordained him in 1586. — Brian Vickers

Other Words from petition


petitionary \ pə-​ˈti-​shə-​ˌner-​ē How to pronounce petition (audio) \ adjective

Examples of petition in a Sentence

Noun They collected 2,000 signatures on a petition demanding that women be allowed to join the club. Would you like to sign our petition? We presented a petition to the legislature to change the law. She filed a petition for divorce. We ask you to hear our petition. Verb The organization petitioned the government to investigate the issue. All people had the right to petition the king for help. She petitioned to join their club. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The judge has scheduled a hearing on the petition for July 12. Kat Tenbarge, NBC News, 17 June 2022 But critics saw the panel’s inability to act on the petition filed more than a year and a half ago as a failure of the state environmental law process. Louis Sahagúnstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 16 June 2022 An Instagram account which Takota Iron Eyes’ parents told the Times belongs to their child refuted the claims made in the petition. Marisa Dellatto, Forbes, 16 June 2022 That ruling has been appealed to the Court of Appeal, which will hear the petition on Monday. Danica Kirka, ajc, 12 June 2022 The petition was signed by more than 27,000 people. Ella Lee, USA TODAY, 11 June 2022 Upon arriving in front of Portland City Hall, the crowd paused to listen as high school organizers encouraged people to sign the petition to get Initiative Petition 17 on the November ballot. oregonlive, 11 June 2022 The prime minister’s office is considering the petition. Matthew Luxmoore, WSJ, 11 June 2022 Armstrong wrote that posting the petition publicly was unethical and not an effective way to instill changes in the company. Marco Quiroz-gutierrez, Fortune, 10 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Red flag laws, also known as extreme risk laws, allow law enforcement or relatives to petition a court for an order to temporarily prevent someone in crisis from accessing guns. Catherine Garcia, The Week, 8 June 2022 Red flag measures allow police or family members to petition a court to issue extreme risk protection orders authorizing them to temporarily confiscate firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves. Candy Woodall, USA TODAY, 3 June 2022 So far, 19 states have passed such laws that allow local authorities and family members to petition in civil court for the restriction of a person's firearm access, according to Everytown. Byquinn Owen, ABC News, 2 June 2022 Yellow-flag laws allow law enforcement — and only law enforcement — to petition the courts to temporarily take guns away from those considered to be a threat to others or themselves. Jack Turman, CBS News, 26 May 2022 Bridget Psarianos, a lawyer with Trustees for Alaska, which is representing the conservation groups, said that under the law there were clear procedures by which individuals or private groups could petition to build a road. New York Times, 25 May 2022 Depending on the state, these laws allow police officers, family, or friends to petition the courts to temporarily confiscate firearms from people who are deemed a danger to themselves or others, or prevent them from purchasing new ones. Globe Staff,, 25 May 2022 The league said Ridley may petition for reinstatement on or after Feb. 15, just a few days after the Super Bowl. NBC News, 8 Mar. 2022 Ridley may petition to be reinstated after Feb. 23, 2023. San Francisco Chronicle, 7 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'petition.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of petition


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1607, in the meaning defined at sense

History and Etymology for petition


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin petition-, petitio, from petere to seek, request — more at feather

Learn More About petition

Time Traveler for petition

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near petition

petitgrain oil



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Last Updated

20 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Petition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for petition


pe·​ti·​tion | \ pə-ˈti-shən How to pronounce petition (audio) \

Kids Definition of petition

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an earnest appeal
2 : a formal written request made to an authority


petitioned; petitioning

Kids Definition of petition (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make an often formal request to or for

Other Words from petition

petitioner noun



Legal Definition of petition

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a formal written request made to an official person or body (as a court or board) a petition for equitable relief the creditor filed a petition for involuntary bankruptcy
2 : a document embodying a formal written request


transitive verb

Legal Definition of petition (Entry 2 of 2)

: to direct a petition to petition the court

intransitive verb

: to make a petition petition for relief

Other Words from petition

petitioner noun

More from Merriam-Webster on petition

Nglish: Translation of petition for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of petition for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about petition


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