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

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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

Sloan also pleaded guilty to perjury charges and lost a $350,000 civil judgment to King, records show. David Harris,, "Ex-deputy jailed in Winter Park stabbing was once accused of killing friend’s wife. Then the friend recanted," 2 July 2019 Dance was convicted of four counts of perjury for taking a consulting job with a company that had gotten a contract with the school system under his watch. Liz Bowie,, "Baltimore County's new superintendent will earn more than predecessor," 13 June 2019 Scot Peterson, 56, was arrested and charged with 11 counts, including seven counts of child neglect, three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury, authorities said. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Ex-deputy charged for Parkland shooting inaction," 4 June 2019 Antagonizing the president is more important to them than questioning whether to trust someone charged with perjury. WSJ, "Michael Cohen Was No Silver Bullet For the Hopeful Democrats," 8 Mar. 2019 The cloud over the 33-year-old playmaker is that he was charged with perjury in March in an investigation linked to his transfer to Tottenham from Dinamo Zagreb in 2008. Rob Harris, The Seattle Times, "Modric wins world player of year, ends Ronaldo-Messi duology," 24 Sep. 2018 And he’s been convicted of perjury before Congress. Dara Lind, Vox, "Michael Cohen’s joke about Hillary Clinton going to prison seems awfully ironic now," 12 Dec. 2018 Two players — Modric, the captain, and Dejan Lovren, a defender — have been accused of perjury in the case of Zdravko Mamic, the former president of the Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Belgium’s Blueprint, Croatia’s Chaos, and the Murky Path to World Cup Glory," 10 July 2018 In keeping with his stoic behavior throughout the three-week trial, Woewiyu sat stone-faced as the jury forewoman read out 11 guilty verdicts to counts including perjury and attempting to fraudulently obtain U.S. citizenship. Kelly Brennan,, "Delco man convicted of hiding past as Liberian war criminal," 3 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of perjury

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for perjury

Last Updated

5 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for perjury

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

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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

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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).


to form ideas or theories about something

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