sue

Definitions

General English

Commerce

  • verb to take someone to court, to start legal proceedings against someone to get money as compensation

Law

  • verb to start legal proceedings against someone to get compensation for a wrong

Publishing

  • verb to take somebody to court or to start legal proceedings against somebody to get money as compensation

Origin & History of “sue”

Sue, like its close relative pursue, originally meant ‘follow’ (‘My wickednesses ever follow me, as men may see the shadow a body sue’, Thomas Hoccleve, Complaint 1421). It comes via Anglo-Norman suer from vulgar Latin *sequere ‘follow’, an alteration of Latin sequī ‘follow’ (source also of English consecutive, ensue (14th c.), persecute, pursue, sequence, sect, set, suit, etc). Its legal use, which emerged in the 14th century, is based on the notion of ‘following’ up a matter in court (a similar inspiration underlies the related prosecute).
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