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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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 Runcie was indicted April 21 on one count of perjury regarding his testimony to the grand jury. Scott Travis,, 2 June 2021 In addition, the oath people take when assisting others with voting would now be made under penalty of perjury. Lauren Mcgaughy, Dallas News, 28 May 2021 Biles-Thomas, 26, is charged with multiple counts of murder, voluntary manslaughter, felonious assault and one count of perjury in the shooting deaths of his cousin, Devaughn Gibson, and DelVaunte Johnson and Toshaun Banks. Cory Shaffer, cleveland, 24 May 2021 In addition to murder, Jack Potter faces three felony counts of perjury allegedly committed in 2008 and 2009, but details on those charges were not disclosed at his arraignment in El Cajon Superior Court. City News Service, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 May 2021 Vaccinated individuals must sign a declaration attesting to their COVID status (under penalty of perjury). Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY, 19 May 2021 Prosecutors said Pedro Guerrero-Gonzalez, 34, faces one felony count of filing a false report and Noel Lopez, 41, faces a count of perjury. Alene Tchekmedyian Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 14 May 2021 Bruce Bartman, 70, received the sentence Friday after entering a guilty plea to two counts of perjury and one count of unlawful voting. Rebekah Riess And Paul Leblanc, CNN, 3 May 2021 Biles-Thomas is charged with murder, voluntary manslaughter, felonious assault and perjury in the deaths of Gibson, Delvaunte Johnson and Toshaun Banks. Cory Shaffer, cleveland, 18 May 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

5 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Perjury.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 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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