Definition of petition in English:

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Pronunciation: /pəˈtiSH(ə)n/


1A formal written request, typically one signed by many people, appealing to authority with respect to a particular cause: she was asked to sign a petition against plans to build on the local playing fields
More example sentences
  • I hope Evening Press readers will sign petitions and write to their MPs demanding that these plans to pay benefits directly into banks are scrapped.
  • Well, I've signed a lot of petitions and written a lot of letters.
  • Even if you never write letters, sign petitions, or speak up in public, you can still make a difference in this world.
appeal, round robin
1.1An appeal or request, especially a solemn or humble one to a deity or a superior.
Example sentences
  • Nor, for that matter, COULD they regulate anyone's private petitions to their own deity!
  • Verse eight declares the defeat of the foul foe and verse nine is a concluding petition to the God of Israel.
  • The shaman is about to perform a cha-chac ceremony: a petition to the god, Chac, to send rain.
entreaty, supplication, plea, prayer, appeal, request, invocation, suit
archaic orison
1.2 Law An application to a court for a writ, judicial action in a suit, etc. a divorce petition
More example sentences
  • The election is subject to the result of the writ petitions before the Supreme Court on the domicile status of candidates contesting the poll.
  • There are very recent cases, some of which I have discussed in a previous column, in which courts have denied petitions for fault divorce.
  • When convicted prisoners brought petitions for writs of habeas corpus before the U.S. Supreme Court, the prisoners were released immediately.


[with object]
1Make or present a formal request to (an authority) with respect to a particular cause: Americans who moved west petitioned Congress for admission to the Union as states [with object and infinitive]: leaders petitioned the government to hold free elections soon
More example sentences
  • The residents had petitioned both authorities for traffic reduction measures.
  • Terence suggested that we stop wasting time and energy petitioning the authorities for permission to do what we're doing, and simply get on with it.
  • Among its early actions was to petition the authorities for a separate Jewish burial ground.
appeal to, request, ask, call on, entreat, beg, implore, plead with, apply to, press, urge
formal adjure
literary beseech
1.1Make a solemn or humble appeal to (a figure of authority): Russell petitioned her father for her hand in marriage
More example sentences
  • She has petitioned the state authorities for many years over her coerced abortion, her right to work, and other basic rights.
  • After failing to get any response from the aviation authorities, the protesters petitioned the president.
  • It was they who communicated with the British authorities, petitioned, and formulated demands.
1.2 Law Make a formal application to (a court) for a writ, judicial action in a suit, etc. the custodial parent petitioned the court for payment of the arrears [no object]: the process allows both spouses to jointly petition for divorce
More example sentences
  • The most fundamental of these guarantees - and one of the cornerstones of democratic rights worldwide - is the right to petition a court for a writ of habeas corpus.
  • All fifty states have statutes granting grandparents, and sometimes other third parties, the right to petition a court for visitation with children - even when the parents object.
  • Your son's mother has petitioned the court for a hearing to lift the restraining order.



Pronunciation: /pəˈtiSHəˌnerē/
Example sentences
  • They garnered signatures from 87 students that have taken at least one class in the Russian department to attach to their petitionary letter.
  • In much the same way, arguments about the existence of God are only useful if you accept the notion that petitionary prayer can result in an objective effect in the phenomenal world.
  • For the past twenty-five years I have been studying various Jewish approaches to petitionary prayer.


Middle English: from Latin petitio(n-), from petit- 'aimed at, sought, laid claim to', from the verb petere.

  • compete from early 17th century:

    This word is from Latin competere in its late sense ‘strive or contend for (something)’: the elements here are com- ‘together’ and petere ‘aim at, seek’. As well as giving us competition (early 17th century) this is also the source of competent (Late Middle English); while petere gives us: impetus [M17] and impetuous (Late Middle English) ‘seek towards, assail’; petition (Middle English) an act of seeking for something; petulant (late 16th century) originally immodest in what you seek; and repeat (Late Middle English) seek again.

Words that rhyme with petition

academician, addition, aesthetician (US esthetician), ambition, audition, beautician, clinician, coition, cosmetician, diagnostician, dialectician, dietitian, Domitian, edition, electrician, emission, fission, fruition, Hermitian, ignition, linguistician, logician, magician, mathematician, Mauritian, mechanician, metaphysician, mission, monition, mortician, munition, musician, obstetrician, omission, optician, paediatrician (US pediatrician), patrician, Phoenician, physician, politician, position, rhetorician, sedition, statistician, suspicion, tactician, technician, theoretician, Titian, tuition, volition

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pe·ti·tion

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