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[suhm-uh nz] /ˈsʌm ənz/
noun, plural summonses.
an authoritative command, message, or signal by which one is summoned.
a request, demand, or call to do something:
a summons to surrender.
  1. a call or citation by authority to appear before a court or a judicial officer.
  2. the writ by which the call is made.
an authoritative call or notice to appear at a specified place, as for a particular purpose or duty.
a call issued for the meeting of an assembly or parliament.
verb (used with object)
to serve with a summons; summon.
Origin of summons
1250-1300; Middle English somons < Anglo-French; Old French somonse < Vulgar Latin *summonsa, for Latin summonita, feminine past participle of summonēre; see summon
Related forms
nonsummons, noun
resummons, noun, plural resummonses.


[suhm-uh n] /ˈsʌm ən/
verb (used with object)
to call upon to do something specified.
to call for the presence of, as by command, message, or signal; call.
to call or notify to appear at a specified place, especially before a court:
to summon a defendant.
to authorize or order a gathering of; call together by authority, as for deliberation or action:
to summon parliament.
to call into action; rouse; call forth (often. followed by up):
to summon all one's courage.
1175-1225; < Medieval Latin summonēre to summon, Latin: to remind unofficially, suggest, equivalent to sum- sum- + monēre to remind, warn; replacing Middle English somonen < Old French semondre, somondre < Vulgar Latin *summonere, Latin summonēre, as above
Related forms
summonable, adjective
summoner, noun
resummon, verb (used with object)
unsummonable, adjective
unsummoned, adjective
1, 3. See call. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for summons
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Their summons was answered only by the furious barking of a dog.

    St. Winifred's Frederic W. Farrar
  • She had been summoned to the last meal of the day, but had forgotten the summons.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • Dion, with a presentiment that misfortune was threatening himself and his dear ones, obeyed the summons.

    Cleopatra, Complete Georg Ebers
  • At last there was the summons to saddle, and Lauzanne was brought into the stall by Dixon.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • Another officer came up the stairs, thrust his head in through the door, and called a summons to them.

    Home Fires in France Dorothy Canfield
British Dictionary definitions for summons


noun (pl) -monses
a call, signal, or order to do something, esp to appear in person or attend at a specified place or time
  1. an official order requiring a person to attend court, either to answer a charge or to give evidence
  2. the writ making such an order Compare warrant
a call or command given to the members of an assembly to convene a meeting
to take out a summons against (a person)
Word Origin
C13: from Old French somonse, from somondre to summon


verb (transitive)
to order to come; send for, esp to attend court, by issuing a summons
to order or instruct (to do something) or call (to something): the bell summoned them to their work
to call upon to meet or convene
(often foll by up) to muster or gather (one's strength, courage, etc)
Derived Forms
summonable, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Latin summonēre to give a discreet reminder, from monēre to advise
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for summons



c.1200, from Anglo-French, Old French sumundre "summon," from Vulgar Latin *summundre "to call, cite," from Latin summonere "hint to," from sub "under" + monere "warn, advise" (see monitor (n.)). Summons "authoritative call to be at a certain place for a certain purpose" is late 13c., from Old French sumunse, noun use of fem. past participle of somondre. Summoner "petty officer who cites persons to appear in court" is from early 14c.; contracted form sumner is from mid-14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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