Subpoena

is a writ given to a man commanding him to appear in court, to bear witness or give evidence on a certain trial named in the writ. It is so called because the party summoned is bound to appear sub poena centum librorum (under a penalty of 100). We have the verb to subpoena.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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