One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A form of writ employed in ecclesiastical cases; specifically one issued by Chancery for the arrest of an excommunicated person.
Late Middle English; earliest use found in Geoffrey Chaucer (c1340–1400), poet and administrator. From post-classical Latin significavit, name of certain writs used in ecclesiastical cases, specifically of the writ De excommunicato capiendo authorizing the arrest of an excommunicated person from classical Latin significāvit, 3rd singular perfect indicative of significāre signify.
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