If you are ever served with a writ, then you better do what it says. A writ is a written document issuing a legal order.

The word writ has been around since before the twelfth century and was first used to describe a written document needed to have a case heard at the royal courts of England during the Middle Ages. Nowadays, the king is most likely no longer involved, but this word still refers to a legal document issued by a court of law. A writ contains a written order instructing someone to do something or to stop doing something. If you ever need to give out a writ, remember that the verb to serve is typically used to describe the issuing of a writ — as in “Tony was served with a writ on Monday.”

Definitions of writ

n (law) a legal document issued by a court or judicial officer

judicial writ
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court order
a writ issued by a court of law requiring a person to do something or to refrain from doing something
a writ from a court commanding police to perform specified acts
an ancient writ issued by a court of assize to the sheriff for the recovery of property
certiorari, writ of certiorari
a common law writ issued by a superior court to one of inferior jurisdiction demanding the record of a particular case
habeas corpus, writ of habeas corpus
a writ ordering a prisoner to be brought before a judge
venire facias
a judicial writ ordering a sheriff to summon people for jury duty
mandamus, writ of mandamus
an extraordinary writ commanding an official to perform a ministerial act that the law recognizes as an absolute duty and not a matter for the official's discretion; used only when all other judicial remedies fail
a writ authorizing the seizure of property that may be needed for the payment of a judgment in a judicial proceeding
fieri facias
a writ ordering a levy on the belongings of a debtor to satisfy the debt
scire facias
a judicial writ based on some record and requiring the party against whom it is brought to show cause why the record should not be enforced or annulled
a writ that authorizes the seizure of property
writ of detinue
a writ ordering the release of goods that have been unlawfully detained
writ of election
a writ ordering the holding of an election
writ of error
a judicial writ from an appellate court ordering the court of record to produce the records of trial
writ of prohibition
a judicial writ from a higher court ordering a lower court not to exercise jurisdiction in a particular case
writ of right
a writ ordering that land be restored to its rightful owner
process, summons
a writ issued by authority of law; usually compels the defendant's attendance in a civil suit; failure to appear results in a default judgment against the defendant
subpoena, subpoena ad testificandum
a writ issued by court authority to compel the attendance of a witness at a judicial proceeding; disobedience may be punishable as a contempt of court
subpoena duces tecum
a writ issued by a court at the request of one of the parties to a suit; it requires a witness to bring to court or to a deposition any relevant documents under the witness's control
an order to an offending party to rid itself of property; it has the purpose of depriving the defendant of the gains of wrongful behavior
search warrant
a warrant authorizing law enforcement officials to search for objects or people involved in the commission of a crime and to produce them in court; the warrant describes the locations where the officials may search
arrest warrant, bench warrant
a warrant authorizing law enforcement officials to apprehend an offender and bring that person to court
death warrant
a warrant to execute the death sentence
cachet, lettre de cachet
a warrant formerly issued by a French king who could warrant imprisonment or death in a signed letter under his seal
a warrant granting postponement (usually to postpone the execution of the death sentence)
a warrant substituting a lesser punishment for a greater one
amnesty, pardon
a warrant granting release from punishment for an offense
execution, writ of execution
a routine court order that attempts to enforce the judgment that has been granted to a plaintiff by authorizing a sheriff to carry it out
gag order
a court order restricting information or comment by the participants involved in a lawsuit
a court order to an employer to withhold all or part of an employee's wages and to send the money to the court or to the person who won a lawsuit against the employee
interdict, interdiction
a court order prohibiting a party from doing a certain activity
a summons that commands the appearance of a party at a proceeding
monition, process of monition
a summons issued after the filing of a libel or claim directing all parties concerned to show cause why the judgment asked for should not be granted
a summons issued to an offender (especially to someone who violates a traffic regulation)
Type of:
instrument, legal document, legal instrument, official document
(law) a document that states some contractual relationship or grants some right

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