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 In exchange for pleading guilty to one count of perjury, other charges were dropped. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska’s attorney general joins others in asking judge to stop prosecution of Michael Flynn," 20 May 2020 Judge Sullivan has also asked Mr. Gleeson to determine whether Mr. Flynn should face an additional charge of perjury. Alan Feuer, New York Times, "Outsider Tapped in Flynn Case Regarded as ‘Straight Arrow’," 14 May 2020 In November 2018, Corsi said he was offered a deal to plea to one count of perjury, but rejected it. Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner, "'Jenga-like': Judge tosses Jerome Corsi lawsuit against Roger Stone and Michael Caputo," 8 Apr. 2020 In 2001, the Los Angeles Police Department was placed under a consent decree in the wake of the Rampart Division scandal, when dozens of police officers were accused of tampering with evidence, perjury and other misconduct. Benjamin Oreskes, Los Angeles Times, "Looking to escape ‘endless’ litigation, L.A. is open to federal oversight for homelessness," 25 Apr. 2020 Fifty-nine percent of all exonerations since 1989 involved perjury or false accusations. Anna Clark, The New Republic, "He Was Wrongly Imprisoned for 25 Years. It Wasn’t DNA Evidence That Got Him Out.," 22 Apr. 2020 His slew of allegations includes discrimination, entrapment, false imprisonment and perjury. Tom Steele, Dallas News, "Before he was Joe Exotic, ‘Tiger King’ star owned Arlington pet store," 2 Apr. 2020 Shirley Montano, 53, pleaded guilty in January to false imprisonment of an elder, perjury by false information, and voluntary manslaughter. NBC News, "Caregiver imprisoned disabled woman for over 10 years, took her phone and walker," 7 Mar. 2020 Clinton was impeached in 1998 on charges related to the affair -- obstruction of justice and perjury -- before being acquitted by the Senate in 1999. Joan Muwahed, ABC News, "Bill Clinton says affair with Monica Lewinsky was to 'manage my anxieties'," 6 Mar. 2020

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

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

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Statistics for perjury

Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Perjury.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for perjury


How to pronounce perjury (audio)

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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