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The act of questioning a deponent under oath, either a witness or a party to a lawsuit, at a deposition. Such an action is taken during the pre-trial discovery process. Rule 30 and Rule 31 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern how to depose a person by oral examination and by written questions, respectively. However, parties in a suit typically opt to serve another party with interrogatories under Rule 33 instead of invoking Rule 31 to depose a person with written questions. Requiring a deposed witness to write down answers to questions can produce less useful answers than interrogatories do, as the latter are easier to follow up on and answers to interrogatories are generally more detailed than deposition questions.

[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]