per·​ju·​ry | \ˈpər-jə-rē, 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

In March, Swann was convicted of with perjury, wire fraud, and Social Security fraud. Agueda Pacheco-flores, The Seattle Times, "Fishing guide sentenced to federal prison for Social Security and disability fraud scheme," 24 Aug. 2018 The lawyers were concerned about a possible perjury trap. Julie Bykowicz, WSJ, "Trump Won’t Consider Mueller’s Obstruction Questions Until Later, Giuliani Says," 6 Sep. 2018 The president of the United States if he doesn't get involved in the perjury trap -- think about that. Fox News, "McCarthy: Mueller is pursuing obstruction case against Trump," 21 Aug. 2018 Modric and Lovren remain entangled in the scandal due to possible cases of perjury. Hayden Bird,, "What to know about the World Cup title match," 14 July 2018 And, Mueller alleges, Person D1 thought Manafort was trying to suborn perjury. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "Paul Manafort just got sent to jail," 15 June 2018 The 12-count indictment, handed up Tuesday (May 1) in U.S. District Court in New Orleans, charges Carlos Alberto Zelaya Rojas, 47, with money laundering, impeding an investigation and perjury. Wilborn P. Nobles Iii,, "Missing Mississippi teen is possibly with former teacher accused of sex crime: report," 2 May 2018 Giuliani's apparent fear is the president, in an interview with Mueller, might intentionally provide false information — that Trump could, in effect, set a perjury trap for himself. Callum Borchers, Washington Post, "Rudy Giuliani basically admitted Trump might not tell Mueller the truth," 4 June 2018 For perjury, or lying under oath, the statute of limitations in federal court is five years, but some still want to see Donham held responsible for the consequences of her alleged dishonesty. Eugene Scott, Washington Post, "Why there’s little optimism after the Justice Department reopened the Emmett Till case," 12 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

6 Dec 2018

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 \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on perjury

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with perjury

Spanish Central: Translation of perjury

Nglish: Translation of perjury for Spanish Speakers

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

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