"scire facias" in OED 1989

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Sep 2 00:18:44 UTC 2009

Literally: _scire facias_ is a "polite imperative." Hence, the sense
is "_(thou shouldst) let [NP] know_ that [NP] should come ..."


On 9/1/09, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      "scire facias" in OED 1989
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> scire facias = "A judicial writ, requiring the sheriff to do the
> party concerned to wit that he should come before the Court to 'show
> cause' why execution should not be taken against him, or why letters
> patent, such as a charter, should not be revoked." [OED 2nd ed. 1989]
> Does "to do the party concerned to wit" convey anything today?  (Or
> even in the 1890s?)  I concede that "scire facias" means in "Law
> Latin" "do (him) to wit" (quoting the OED), but surely one can do
> better in the definition.  For one, who is "the party concerned" and
> who is the "he' that follows?  (I suspect they are not the same
> persons, but that's in part why I'm looking up the definition of
> "scire facias".)
> Joel
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