[oh-yer, oi-er]

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

1375–1425; late Middle English < Anglo-French; Old French oïr to hear < Latin audīre
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for oyer

Historical Examples of oyer

  • "I should like them to tow me along for another hour or two, after the rain is oyer," he said.

  • No courts of Oyer and Terminer, at vast expense to the people.

    The Abominations of Modern Society

    Rev. T. De Witt Talmage

  • 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

  • For that reason I refuse to sit in the court of oyer and terminer with those gentlemen.

    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

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

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