from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A judgment against a plaintiff for failure to prosecute the case or to introduce sufficient evidence.
  • transitive v. To render a judgment of nonsuit against (a plaintiff).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A lawsuit that is dismissed as having been brought without cause, prior to an adjudication on the merits.
  • v. To dismiss (a plaintiff) on the grounds of his or her lawsuit having been brought without cause, prior to an adjudication on the merits.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A neglect or failure by the plaintiff to follow up his suit; a stopping of the suit; a renunciation or withdrawal of the cause by the plaintiff, either because he is satisfied that he can not support it, or upon the judge's expressing his opinion. A compulsory nonsuit is a nonsuit ordered by the court on the ground that the plaintiff on his own showing has not made out his case.
  • transitive v. To determine, adjudge, or record (a plaintiff) as having dropped his suit, upon his withdrawal or failure to follow it up.
  • adj. Nonsuited.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A judgment or decision against a plaintiff when he fails to show a cause of action at the trial: now often called dismissal of complaint. See calling of the plaintiff, under calling.
  • n. A judgment ordered for neglect to prosecute; a non pros.
  • In law, to subject to a nonsuit; deprive of the benefit of a legal process, owing to failure to appear in court when called upon, or to prove a case.
  • Nonsuited.


Middle English, failure of a plaintiff to prosecute, from Anglo-Norman nounsuite : noun-, no (from Latin nōn; see non-) + suite, suit; see suit.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)



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  • But, said I, how do you know that your fifteen hundred ducats were faithfully paid into his hands? Unquestionably they were! exclaimed Don Raphael; I would answer for the disinterested purity of that ecclesiastic as soon as for my own. I would be your collateral security, said Lamela; he is a priest of the strictest sanctity, a sort of universal almoner; and though many times cited for sums of money, deposited with him for charitable uses, he has always nonsuited the plaintiff and gone out of court with an augmentation of alms-giving notoriety.

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 10 ch. 6

    October 9, 2008