ar·​son | \ ˈär-sᵊn How to pronounce arson (audio) \

Definition of arson

: the willful or malicious burning of property (such as a building) especially with criminal or fraudulent intent Arson was determined to be the cause of the fire.

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Other Words from arson

arsonist \ ˈär-​sᵊn-​ist How to pronounce arsonist (audio) \ noun
arsonous \ ˈär-​sᵊn-​əs How to pronounce arsonous (audio) \ adjective

Examples of arson in a Sentence

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but investigators suspect arson. The town has suffered a rash of arson attacks. The town has suffered a rash of arsons.
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Recent Examples on the Web

When advocacy groups like Human Rights Watch were searching the camps for survivors of war crimes, Ullah assisted researchers by going from hut to hut, building a tally of killings, rapes and arsons. Vidya Krishnan, Los Angeles Times, "‘We live like animals': Refugee leader gives Rohingya a voice," 16 Sep. 2019 Also charged in the Dec. 20, 2017 arson and killings of the Lindquists is Ruth Correa, Sergio Correa’s half-sister. David Owens,, "Griswold triple homicide: Neighbor describes finding friend’s home engulfed in flames," 16 Sep. 2019 Myanmar security forces are accused of killings, gang rape and arson during a crackdown that drove more than 730,000 people to flee western Rakhine state for neighboring Bangladesh after attacks on police posts by Rohingya insurgents in August 2017. NBC News, "Rohingya still in Myanmar face 'threat of genocide': United Nations," 16 Sep. 2019 On September 5, patrol officers observed signs of attempted arson and graffiti at a pavilion. Cheryl Higley,, "Bleser Park pavilions vandalized: Avon Lake police blotter," 13 Sep. 2019 Skip to main content An arson attack on a bar in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico Tuesday night killed 25 people and injured about a dozen others. Mark Stevenson, USA TODAY, "Corruption possible: 25 dead after fiery attack on Mexican bar," 28 Aug. 2019 Nine days after the Christchurch shootings, there was an arson attack against a mosque in California, followed by a shooting. Xanthe Mallett, Quartz, "‘True crime’ entertainment disrespects victims and their families—and it needs to stop," 17 Aug. 2019 Yasuhiro Takemoto, director of TV series Lucky Star and co-director of feature The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, both by Kyoto Animation (KyoAni), is feared to be among the 34 who died in the arson attack on the studio on July 18. Gavin J. Blair, The Hollywood Reporter, "Kyoto Animation Arson Attack: Leading Anime Director Feared Among Dead," 24 July 2019 Most challengingly of all, there are the tribal, clan, and petty farmer rivalries that have descended into relentless tit-for-tat arson attacks in the past. Peter Schwartzstein, National Geographic, "Iraq races to save last of Middle East's forests from burning," 22 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'arson.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of arson

circa 1680, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for arson

Anglo-French arsoun, from ars, past participle of arder, ardre to burn, from Latin ardēre — more at ardor

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Dictionary Entries near arson

Ars Magna

ars nova




arsonic acid


Statistics for arson

Last Updated

12 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for arson

The first known use of arson was circa 1680

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More Definitions for arson



English Language Learners Definition of arson

: the illegal burning of a building or other property : the crime of setting fire to something


ar·​son | \ ˈär-sᵊn How to pronounce arson (audio) \

Kids Definition of arson

: the illegal burning of a building or other property


ar·​son | \ ˈärs-ᵊn How to pronounce arson (audio) \

Legal Definition of arson

: the act or crime of willfully, wrongfully, and unjustifiably setting property on fire often for the purpose of committing fraud (as on an insurance company)

Other Words from arson

arsonist \ -​ist How to pronounce arsonist (audio) \ noun

History and Etymology for arson

Anglo-French arsoun, alteration of Old French arsin, literally, conflagration, from ars, past participle of ardre to burn

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More from Merriam-Webster on arson

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with arson

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for arson

Spanish Central: Translation of arson

Nglish: Translation of arson for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of arson for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about arson

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