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 The indictment also alleges that Maxwell committed perjury during two civil depositions in 2016. Aaron Katersky, ABC News, "Ghislaine Maxwell pleads not guilty to superseding federal indictment," 23 Apr. 2021 Former Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford pleaded guilty to a single count of perjury, ending a years-long probe of a pay-to-play scandal in the high desert city. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, "Essential California: UC and CSU systems plan to mandate vaccinations," 23 Apr. 2021 Runcie was arrested Wednesday on a charge of perjury in an official proceeding, a third-degree felony. Scott Travis,, "Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, attorney Barbara Myrick arrested in grand jury probe," 21 Apr. 2021 Hughes committed perjury and bound the case over, according to WSFA. William Thornton |, al, "Lee County DA paid settlement following sex discrimination claim: testimony," 4 Dec. 2020 Remember, every tax return must be signed under penalties of perjury. Robert W. Wood, Forbes, "Sober IRS Warnings On Tax Crimes Before Filing Your Taxes," 9 Apr. 2021 Three months later, he was indicted on 10 additional counts of perjury. NBC News, "DA wants to dismiss 90 convictions tied to ex-NYPD detective accused of perjury," 7 Apr. 2021 Both articles passed with nominal bipartisan support: five Democrats supported each measure, while five Republicans voted against the perjury charge, and twelve opposed the obstruction-of-justice charge. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, "Why Impeachment Doesn’t Work," 22 Feb. 2021 The House voted against impeachment on a second perjury charge and on an abuse of power charge. New York Times, "The Impeachment Proceedings That Came Before," 13 Jan. 2021

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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Time Traveler for perjury

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for perjury

Last Updated

30 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Perjury.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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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

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