July 27, 2017
subpoena (verb)
\suh-PEE-nuh\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: to serve or summon with a written order commanding a person named in it to appear in court under a penalty for failure to appear
How do you use it?
Prosecutors seeking an indictment in the scam subpoenaed twenty witnesses to testify before the grand jury.
Are you a word wiz?

"Subpoena" comes to us straight from two Latin words: "sub" and "poena." What do these words mean?

There's no penalty if you chose A! In the Middle Ages, many legal documents, such as writs (court orders), were written in Latin. The word "subpoena" comes from the first words of the writ issued by the court commanding someone to appear, which were "sub poena," or "under penalty." "Poena," the unfamiliar word of the pair, has parented other words in English. It is the root of the words "pain," "punish," and the verb "pine," meaning "to long for something."
Archive RSS Feed