Definition of summons in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsəmənz/

noun (plural summonses)

1An order to appear before a judge or magistrate, or the writ containing it: a summons for nonpayment of a parking ticket
More example sentences
  • He then failed to answer a summons from the examining magistrate, and a warrant for his arrest was issued on 28th January 1997.
  • It includes the originating summons and the writ of habeas corpus that were filed in that court and/or the evidentiary material before that court.
  • However, the court did lose jurisdiction over the person and it could only regain that jurisdiction by re-issuing a summons to the defendant to appear.
1.1An authoritative or urgent call to someone to be present or to do something: [with infinitive]: they might receive a summons to fly to France next day
More example sentences
  • This wasn't a friendly knock; it was an urgent summons.
  • The Raja's envoy, Hari Chand, who reached Kiratpur on the Baisakhi day of 1661, presented the royal summons.
  • So that was what the urgent summons had been about.


[with object] chiefly Law
Serve (someone) with a summons: [with object and infinitive]: he has been summonsed to appear in court next month
More example sentences
  • He was summonsed over articles that appeared in Australia and PNG in January expressing concerns over rising crime and the security of his family in PNG.
  • Only one in five of those drivers was subsequently summonsed to appear in court.
  • Another woman was also summonsed for assisting the first defendant.
serve with a summons, summon, subpoena, cite, serve with a citation


Middle English: from Old French sumunse, from an alteration of Latin summonita, feminine past participle of summonere (see summon).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sum·mons

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