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 Maxwell, a 58-year-old British socialite, was arrested by the FBI in New Hampshire last week on charges of conspiracy to entice minors, enticement of a minor, conspiracy to transport minors, transportation of a minor, and perjury. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "Fox News 'mistakenly' crops Trump out of photo with Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein," 6 July 2020 Maxwell was taken into custody nearly one year to the day after Epstein was arrested in early July 2019, and faces six charges including illegally transporting minors and perjury. CBS News, "Epstein accuser calls Ghislaine Maxwell's arrest a "win," claims more conspirators are still out there," 3 July 2020 The judge ruled that election officials in those counties could not enforce the witness and photo ID requirements on voters who were at enhanced risk of serious illness from COVID-19 and who sign a statement under penalty of perjury declaring that. Mike Cason |, al, "Plaintiffs ask Clarence Thomas to let curbside voting order stand," 2 July 2020 Last week, Pugh also pleaded guilty to state-level perjury charges for not disclosing income from the books on financial disclosure forms. Washington Post, "Local Digest: Former Baltimore mayor to start serving prison sentence," 25 June 2020 Gleeson said Sullivan should consider the perjury offense in deciding how to sentence Flynn. Kristine Phillips, USA TODAY, "Appeals court seems unwilling to force dismissal of Michael Flynn case, attorneys face tough questioning," 12 June 2020 Gleeson said Flynn did indeed commit perjury, but that Sullivan should take that into consideration at sentencing. Clare Hymes, CBS News, "Retired judge says court should reject "preposterous" DOJ move to drop Flynn case," 10 June 2020 Lawsuits filed against the department uncovered that officers routinely planted evidence on suspects, fabricated reports and committed perjury. Scottie Andrew, CNN, "This city disbanded its police department 7 years ago. Here's what happened next," 9 June 2020 The first-degree perjury charge, a felony, carried a sentence of one to five years in prison, but special prosecutor Shane Young is recommending a five-year sentence that would be suspended for five years. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, "Former Louisville detective who sent 3 innocent men to prison pleads guilty to perjury," 3 June 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

10 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Perjury.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jul. 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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