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[oh-yer, oi-er] /ˈoʊ yər, ˈɔɪ ər/
noun, Law.
a hearing in open court involving the production of some document pleaded by one party and demanded by the other, the party pleading the document being said to make profert.
Origin of oyer
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English < Anglo-French; Old French oïr to hear < Latin audīre Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for oyer
Historical Examples
  • For that reason I refuse to sit in the court of oyer and terminer with those gentlemen.

    Give Me Liberty Thomas J. Wertenbaker
  • No courts of oyer and Terminer, at vast expense to the people.

    The Abominations of Modern Society Rev. T. De Witt Talmage
  • Courts in which crimes are tried are sometimes called courts of oyer and terminer.

    The Government Class Book Andrew W. Young
  • It was to be expected, then, that they should insist that none but themselves should sit on the new court of oyer and terminer.

    Give Me Liberty Thomas J. Wertenbaker
  • The test came in December, 1718, when the court of oyer and terminer was about to begin its session.

    Give Me Liberty Thomas J. Wertenbaker
  • The season, and manner of doing it, is such, that the Court of oyer and Terminer count themselves thereby dismissed.

  • So far as the records show, no action was taken until the trial began in oyer and Terminer.

    Henry Hudson Thomas A. Janvier
  • Mr. Russel asked, whether the Court of oyer and Terminer should sit, expressing some fear of inconvenience by its fall.

  • The court of oyer and terminer consists of all the judges except the chancellor.

    The Government Class Book Andrew W. Young
  • The great oyer of poisoning was, however, calculated to make a very deep impression on the public mind.

British Dictionary definitions for oyer


(English legal history) (in the 13th century) an assize
(formerly) the reading out loud of a document in court
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 oyer

early 15c., "a hearing of causes," from Anglo-French oyer, Old French oir, from Latin audire "to hear" (see audience). Especially in phrase oyer and terminer (early 15c., but from late 13c. in Anglo-Latin and Anglo-French), literally "a hearing and determining," in England a court of judges of assize, in U.S. a higher criminal court.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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