A legal document that notifies a party that a lawsuit has been initiated and states when and where the party must appear to answer the charges. A notice to the defendant requiring him to serve an answer to the complaint.

The act by which a defendant is notified by a compepetent officer, that an action has been instituted against him, and that he is required to answer to it at a time and place named. This is done either by giving the defendant a copy of the summons, or leaving it at his house; or by reading the summons to him. A paper issued by a court informing a person that a complaint has been filed against her (that is, that she has been sued) is called a summons. The summons tells her that she is being sued, by whom, for what, and that she must file a response with the court within a certain time or will lose.

The name of a writ commanding the sheriff, or other authorized officer, to notify a party to appear in court to answer a complaint made against him and in the said writ specified, on a day therein mentioned.


Petty officers who cite men to appear in any court.