Legal Definition and Related Resources of Process

Meaning of Process

The proceedings in any action or prosecution , real or personal , civil or criminal , from the beginning to the end; strictly, the summons by which one is cited into a court , because it is the beginning or principal part thereof, by which the rest is directed. Any means of acquiring jurisdiction , although a summons may or may not be a process, depending upon the practise of the particular jurisdiction. See, for example, First national Bank v Rusk, 64 Or. 35,127 P. 780. Also see James river National Bank v Haas, 73 N.D. 374, 15 N. W.2d 442.

Process Alternative Definition

In Practice. The means of compelling a defendant to appear in court, after suing out the original writ, in civil, and, after indictment, in criminal, cases. In a broader sense all writs and mandates issued in the course of the proceeding. 15 Pla. 410. The method taken by law to compel a compliance with the original writ or commands of the court. In a strict sense, “process” is confined to the mandate of a court under its seal, whereby a party or an officer of the court is commanded to do certain acts. Thus, the summons used in many states, signed by plaintiff’s attorney only, is not process. 12 Minn. 80; J7 Ore. 564. In civil causes, in all real actions and for injuries not committed against the peace, the first step was a summons, which was served in personal actions by two persons called summoners, in real actions by erecting a white stick or wand on the defendant’s grounds. If this summons was disregarded, the next step was an attachment of the goods of the defendant, and in case of trespasses the attachment issued at once without a summons. If the attachment failed, a distringas issued, which was continued till he appeared. Here process ended in injuries not committed with force. In case of such injuries, an arrest of the person was provided for. See “Arrest.” In modern practice some of these steps are omitted; but the practice of the different states is too various to admit tracing here the differences which have resulted from retaining different steps of the process. In the English law, process in civil causes is called “original” process, when it is founded upon the original writ; and also to distinguish it from mesne or intermediate process, which issues pending the suit, upon some collateral interlocutory matter, as, to summon juries, witnesses, and the like. “Mesne” process is also sometimes put in contradistinction to “final” process, or process of execution; and then it signifies all process which intervenes between the beginning and end of a suit. 3 BI. Comm. 279. And this is the modern usage. 31 N. J. Law, 231. In Patent Law. The art or method by which any particular result is produced. A process, eo nomine, is not made the subject of a patent in our act of congress. It is included under the general term “useful art.” Where a result or effect is produced by chemical action, by the operation or application of some element or power of nature, or of one substance to another, such modes, methods, or operations are called “processes.” A new process is usually the result of discovery; a machine, of invention. The arts of tanning, dyeing, making waterproof cloth, vulcanizing india rubber, smelting ores, and numerous others, are usually carried on by “processes,” as distinguished from “machines.” But the term “process” is often employed more vaguely in a secondary sense, in which it cannot be the subject of a patent. Thus, we say that a board is undergoing the process of being planed, grain of being ground, iron of being hammered or rolled. Here the term is used subjectively or passively, as applied to the material operated on, and not to the method or mode of producing that operation, which is by mechanical means, or the use of a machine, as distinguished from a process. In this use of the term it represents the function of a machine, or the effect produced by it on the material subjected to the action of the machine, and does not constitute a patentable subject matter, because there cannot be a valid patent for the function or abstract effect of a machine, but only for the machine which produces it. 15 How. (U. S.) 267, 268. See 2 Barn. & Aid. 349.

Synonyms of Process

(Course), noun

  • action
  • conduct
  • continued movement
  • continuing development
  • handling
  • line of action
  • manner
  • means
  • method
  • methodology
  • mode of operation
  • operation
  • performance
  • plan
  • policy
  • procedure
  • progressive course
  • ratio
  • regular proceeding
  • ritual
  • routine
  • scheme
  • series of measures
  • strategy
  • system
  • tactics
  • transaction
  • treatment
  • way
  • ways and means Associated Concepts: due process
  • judicial process

(Summons), noun

  • authoritative citation to appear before a court
  • authoritative command
  • behest
  • bidding
  • citation
  • command
  • direction
  • instruction to appear
  • legal call
  • lis
  • official call
  • official notice
  • requirement to appear
  • signal by which one is summoned
  • subpoena
  • writ Associated Concepts: abuse of process
  • compulsory process
  • defective process
  • irregular process
  • return of process
  • service of process

Related Entries of Process in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Process in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Process in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Process in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Process in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary.

Related Legal Terms

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Mentioned in these terms

Abode, Abscond, Abuse Of Process, Action, Adjustment, Alien, Appeal, Apportionment, Arraignment, Assessment, Assistance, Writ Of, Benefit Of Clergy, Circumstantial Evidence, Citation, Civil Contempt, Codification, , Condemn, Condemnation, Consolidate, Consolidation, Constable, Construct, Construction, Consultation, Contempt Of Court, Damage, Distrain, Distress, Elisor, Emancipation, Eminent Domain, Enactment, Erroneous, Eviction, Factory, Garnishee, Garnishment, Hearsay Evidence, Improvement, Insolvency, Insolvent, Integration, Interpleader, Intervening Right, Judgment Creditor, Judgment In Personam, Judgment Nihil Dicit, Judgment Proof, Judgment Roll, Judicial Lien, , Justiciability, Kiting, Liquidation, Long Arm Statutes, Macadamize, Malicious Abuse Of Process, Manufacture, Mesne Process, Minimum Contact, Notice To Quit, Obsolescence, Operation, Packaging, Partition, Patents, Penal Institution, Plebiscite, Police Power, Praecipe, Presumption, Probate, Procedure, Product, Prosecution, Rebellion, Recapture, Reconciliation, Recovery, Redemption, Reference, Reliction, Remittitur, Reorganization, Resettlement, Rests, Return, Return Day, Revolution, Right Of Action, Right Of Privacy, Settle, Sheriff, Solvency, Substituted Service, Supersedeas, Survey, Taxation, Trade Secret, Treatment, Trial.

Translate Process from English to Spanish

Translation of Process , with examples. More about free online translation into Spanish of Proceso and other legal terms is available here.


You might be interested in these references tools:

Resource Description
Process in the Dictionary Process in our legal dictionaries
Browse the Legal Thesaurus Find synonyms and related words of Process
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Related topics Process in the World Encyclopedia of Law


This definition of Process is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

Vocabularies (Semantic Web Information)


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Sitemap Index Sitemap Index, including Taxonomies The URI of Process (more about URIs)

Etimology of Process

(You may find process at the world legal encyclopedia and the etimology of more terms).

1530s, “begin legal action against,” from Middle French processer “to prosecute,” from proces (see process; this term is also a noun.). Meaning “prepare by special process” is from 1881, from the noun in English. Of persons, “to register and examine,” by 1935. Related: Processed; processing.


This term is a noun.

Etimology of Process

(You may find process at the world legal encyclopedia and the etimology of more terms).

early 14c., “fact of being carried on” (as in in process), from Old French proces “a journey; continuation, development; legal trial” (13c.) and directly from Latin processus “a going forward, advance, progress,” from past participle stem of procedere “go forward” (see proceed). Meaning “course or method of action” is from mid-14c.; sense of “continuous series of actions meant to accomplish some result” (the main modern sense) is from 1620s. Legal sense of “course of action of a suit at law” is attested from early 14c.

Meaning of Process (to) in Spanish

Description/ translation of process (to) into Spanish: cumplir los trámites legales; the prompt processing of an arrestee: resolver sin dilación sobre la situación de un detenido[1]

Note: for more information on related terms and on the area of law where process (to) belongs (criminal procedure law), in Spanish, see here.

Notes and References

  1. Translation of Process (to) published by Antonio Peñaranda


See Also

  • Law Dictionaries.
  • Further Reading

    Castoriadis-Aulagnier, Piera. (2001). The violence of interpretation: From pictogram to statement (Alan Sheridan, Trans.). East Sussex, UK: Brunner-Routledge.

    Freud, Sigmund. (1900a). The interpretation of dreams. Part I, SE, 4: 1-338; Part II, SE, 5: 339-625.

    . (1911b). Formulations on the two principles of mental functioning. SE, 12: 213-226.

    . (1950c [1895]) Project for a scientific psychology. SE, 1: 281-387.

    Green, André. (1972). Note sur les processus tertiaires. Revue française de Psychanalyse, 36, 3, 407-410.

    Jaspers, Karl. (1913). General psychopathology Manchester Universities Press, 1963.

    Lalande, André. (1926). Vocabulaire technique et critique de la philosophie. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

    Marchais, Pierre. (1968). Les processus névrotiques: contribution à l’étude psychopathologique des névroses. Paris: L’Expansion.

    Process in Law Enforcement

    Main Entry: Law Enforcement in the Legal Dictionary. This section provides, in the context of Law Enforcement, a partial definition of process.


    See Also

    • Law Enforcement Officer
    • Police
    • Law Enforcement Agency

    Further Reading

    Definition of Process

    In relation to social issues, a meaning of process is provided here: a series of gradual changes bringing about a result.





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