per·​ju·​ry | \ ˈpər-jə-rē How to pronounce perjury (audio) , ˈpərj-rē\

Definition of perjury

: the voluntary violation of an oath or vow either by swearing to what is untrue or by omission to do what has been promised under oath : false swearing

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

The prefix per- in Latin often meant "harmfully". So witnesses who perjure themselves do harm to the truth by knowingly telling a lie. Not all lying is perjury, only lying under oath; so perjury generally takes place either in court or before a legislative body such as Congress. To avoid committing perjury, a witness or defendant may "take the Fifth": that is, refuse to answer a question because the answer might be an admission of guilt, and the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution forbids forcing a citizen to admit to being guilty of a crime.

Examples of perjury in a Sentence

He was found guilty of perjury.

Recent Examples on the Web

His conviction was ultimately overturned in 1993, thanks to the crusading efforts of Stevenson (played here by Michael B. Jordan), who exposed the myriad missteps in the case, from suppressed evidence to outright perjury. Los Angeles Times, "Toronto Film Festival: ‘Waves’ and ‘Just Mercy’ shine a light on black American families in crisis," 7 Sep. 2019 Under the city charter, a summary judicial inquiry allows city officials to be questioned under penalty of perjury about matters of alleged official misconduct. CBS News, "Eric Garner's family seeks testimony of Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2014 chokehold death," 28 Aug. 2019 District Attorney George Gascón charged 64-year-old Marta Betancur with six felonies, all pertaining to insurance fraud and attempted perjury. Rick Hurd, The Mercury News, "Antioch woman pleads not guilty to San Francisco insurance fraud," 16 Aug. 2019 In May 2018, Novartis got dragged into the circus surrounding Michael Cohen, the former attorney for President Trump who was convicted of fraud and perjury., "The week in business," 12 Aug. 2019 In its memorandum, the Attorney General's Office stated that Henderson was found guilty of perjury beyond a reasonable doubt. Carol Robinson |, al, "Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals confirms Charles Todd Henderson’s perjury conviction," 9 Aug. 2019 Rita Newcomb is charged with obstruction of justice, perjury, and three counts of forgery. Sarah Hager,, "Pike Co. grandmother still facing obstruction, perjury charges may have bond revoked," 25 July 2019 In 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 counts of financial crimes, including fraud, money laundering, perjury and theft, according to the New York Times. Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY, "Bernie Madoff asks Doanld Trump to reduce 150-year sentence," 24 July 2019 In 2013, Hill was convicted of perjury and was sentenced to seven months of probation. Fox News, "Philadelphia police shooting suspect has 'extensive' criminal history, commissioner says," 15 Aug. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of perjury

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about perjury

Statistics for perjury

Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for perjury

The first known use of perjury was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for perjury



English Language Learners Definition of perjury

law : the crime of telling a lie in a court of law after promising to tell the truth


per·​ju·​ry | \ ˈpər-jə-rē How to pronounce perjury (audio) \
plural perjuries

Legal Definition of perjury

: the act or crime of knowingly making a false statement (as about a material matter) while under oath or bound by an affirmation or other officially prescribed declaration that what one says, writes, or claims is true — compare false swearing

History and Etymology for perjury

Anglo-French perjurie parjurie, from Latin perjurium, from perjurus deliberately giving false testimony, from per- detrimental to + jur- jus law

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on perjury

What made you want to look up perjury? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


recurring in steady succession

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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