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

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 The foundation's president, Durry Nkanga, signed off on the accuracy of the IRS statement under penalties of perjury. J.c. Reindl, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan fund backs questionable bid for scandal-plagued cemeteries," 4 July 2018 Just weeks earlier, thousands of pages of documents were surrendered by the city, which led to further allegations some officers involved in the case had committed perjury. Angela Helm, The Root, "Chicago PD Settle for $2.5 Million After Police Point Gun at 3-Year-Old," 4 July 2018 But Mueller says there’s ample evidence that the group did work in the US too, and the witnesses thought Manafort and Kilimnik were trying to get them to commit perjury. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "All of Robert Mueller’s indictments and plea deals in the Russia investigation so far," 8 June 2018 Greitens' attorneys argued that a private investigator Gardner hired to look into Greitens had committed perjury and withheld evidence. CBS News, "Prosecutor won't refile case stemming from Eric Greitens' affair," 8 June 2018 Lying to the committee would be perjury, a Class E felony. Jason Hancock, kansascity, "Head of investigative committee says he’s talked with FBI about Greitens | The Kansas City Star," 24 May 2018 One is false statements, the other is perjury and finally obstruction of justice. Fox News, "Devin Nunes on McCabe firing, upcoming IG report," 19 Mar. 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

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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Statistics for perjury

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for perjury

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

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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 \
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

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