lèse-majesté

noun
lèse-ma·​jes·​té | \ ˌlāz-ˈma-jə-stē How to pronounce lèse-majesté (audio) , ˌlez-, ˌlēz- \
variants: or lese majesty

Definition of lèse-majesté

1a : a crime (such as treason) committed against a sovereign power
b : an offense violating the dignity of a ruler as the representative of a sovereign power
2 : a detraction from or affront to dignity or importance

Did you know?

Lèse-majesté (or lese majesty, as it is also styled in English publications) comes into English by way of Middle French, from the Latin laesa majestas, which literally means "injured majesty." The English term can conceivably cover any offense against a sovereign power or its ruler, from treason to a simple breach of etiquette. Lèse-majesté has also acquired a more lighthearted or ironic meaning, referring to an insult or impudence to a particularly pompous or self-important person or organization. As such, it may be applied to a relatively inoffensive act that has been exaggeratedly treated as if it were a great affront.

First Known Use of lèse-majesté

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for lèse-majesté

Middle French lese majesté, from Latin laesa majestas, literally, injured majesty

Learn More About lèse-majesté

Time Traveler for lèse-majesté

Time Traveler

The first known use of lèse-majesté was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About lèse-majesté

Dictionary Entries Near lèse-majesté

Leschetizky

lèse-majesté

Les Eyzies

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for lèse-majesté

Cite this Entry

“Lèse-majesté.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/l%C3%A8se-majest%C3%A9. Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!