• synonyms

habeas corpus

[hey-bee-uh s kawr-puh s]
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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.
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Origin of habeas corpus

< 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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for habeas corpus

case, litigation, tribunal, suit, prosecution, hearing, contest, arraignment, action, indictment, lawsuit, impeachment, summons, claim, citation, seizure, rap, counterclaim, cross-examination, decree

Examples from the Web for habeas corpus

Historical Examples of habeas corpus

  • He never heard of the effort of London friends to deliver him at Singapore by means of habeas-corpus proceedings.

    Lineage, Life and Labors of Jose Rizal: Philippine Patriot

    Austin Craig

  • They moved for a habeas-corpus in the King's Bench, but the court would take no cognizance of the affair.

  • This was all the natives of Scotland had in lieu of the habeas-corpus act; though it did not screen them from oppression.

  • The commons forthwith suspended the habeas-corpus act; and several persons were apprehended on suspicion of treasonable practices.

  • He would get out a writ of habeas-corpus, and did, too, but Blount had gained his point and Hall was kept in custody another day.

British Dictionary definitions for habeas corpus

habeas corpus

  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
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Word Origin for habeas corpus

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

Word Origin and History for habeas corpus


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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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.”

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