lèse-majesté

noun

lèse-ma·​jes·​té ˌlāz-ˈma-jə-stē How to pronounce lèse-majesté (audio)
ˌlez-,
ˌlēz-
variants or lese majesty
1
a
: 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

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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.

Examples of lèse-majesté in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But the upstart Move Forward Party—led by the young and charismatic Pita Limjaroenrat and most known for its calls to amend Section 112, the controversial lese-majeste law wielded against pro-democracy activists—ended up getting even more votes. Time, 22 Aug. 2023 Move Forward won strong popular support in particular for its calls to amend Section 112, the country’s controversial lese-majeste law—which carries up to 15 years in prison for criticizing the royal family, and which in recent years has been used to target pro-democracy activists. Time, 13 July 2023 Move Forward has also championed the amendment of Section 112, a controversial lese-majeste law criticized by pro-democracy activists but upheld by the junta and royalists, including Move Forward’s coalition partner Pheu Thai. Time, 3 July 2023 Limjaroenrat is seeking to remove the military from politics and advocates for reform of the monarchy, including the country’s controversial lese-majeste law, Article 112. Julia Malleck, Quartz, 11 May 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'lèse-majesté.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

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Cite this Entry

“Lèse-majesté.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/l%C3%A8se-majest%C3%A9. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

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