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habeas corpus

[hey-bee-uh s kawr-puh s] /ˈheɪ bi əs ˈkɔr pəs/
noun, Law.
1.
a writ requiring a person to be brought before a judge or court, especially for investigation of a restraint of the person's liberty, used as a protection against illegal imprisonment.
Origin
< Latin: literally, have the body (first words of writ), equivalent to habeās 2nd singular present subjunctive (with imperative force) of habēre to have + corpus body
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for habeas corpus

habeas corpus

/ˈheɪbɪəs ˈkɔːpəs/
noun
1.
(law) a writ ordering a person to be brought before a court or judge, esp so that the court may ascertain whether his detention is lawful
Word Origin
C15: from the opening of the Latin writ, literally: you may have the body
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 habeas corpus
n.

writ requiring a person to be brought before a court, mid-15c., Latin, literally "(you should) have the person," in phrase habeas corpus ad subjiciendum "produce or have the person to be subjected to (examination)," opening words of writs in 14c. Anglo-French documents to require a person to be brought before a court or judge, especially to determine if that person is being legally detained. From habeas, second person singular present subjunctive of habere "to have, to hold" (see habit) + corpus "person," literally "body" (see corporeal). In reference to more than one person, habeas corpora.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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habeas corpus in Culture
habeas corpus [(hay-bee-uhs kawr-puhs)]

A legal term meaning that an accused person must be presented physically before the court with a statement demonstrating sufficient cause for arrest. Thus, no accuser may imprison someone indefinitely without bringing that person and the charges against him or her into a courtroom. In Latin, habeas corpus literally means “you shall have the body.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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