per·​pe·​tu·​i·​ty | \ ˌpər-pə-ˈtü-ə-tē How to pronounce perpetuity (audio) , -ˈtyü-\
plural perpetuities

Definition of perpetuity

2 : the quality or state of being perpetual bequeathed to them in perpetuity
3a : the condition of an estate limited so that it will not take effect or vest within the period fixed by law
b : an estate so limited
4 : an annuity payable forever

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Did You Know?

Continual existence—that elusive concept has made perpetuity a favorite term of philosophers and poets for centuries. The word derives ultimately from the Latin adjective perpetuus ("continual" or "uninterrupted"), which is also the source of our perpetual and perpetuate. It frequently occurs in the phrase "in perpetuity," which essentially means "forever" or "for an indefinitely long period of time." Perpetuity also has some specific uses in law. It can refer to an arrangement in a will rendering land forever inalienable (or at least, for a period longer than is set by rules against such arrangements) or to an annuity that is payable forever.

Examples of perpetuity in a Sentence

lands that should remain in their wild state in perpetuity

Recent Examples on the Web

If the home is sold at a later date, the owners keep any appreciation on the structure, while the land remains in the city's hands in perpetuity. Haisten Willis,, "How some cities are planning to revive neighborhoods — without displacement," 3 Sep. 2019 Then imagine every one of them was thoroughly documented and distributed worldwide, to linger on the internet in perpetuity. Emily Dixon, Marie Claire, "Justin Bieber Opened Up About His Heavy Drug Use and Toxic Relationships in Early Fame," 3 Sep. 2019 Bryce then helped Winston get someone to take the SATs for him as a bribe, therefore securing blackmail over Winston in perpetuity. Ariana Romero,, "The Timeline You Need To Understand 13 Reasons Why Season 3," 24 Aug. 2019 Held in trust in perpetuity by a volunteer five-member board of trustees, Ramona Town Hall has operated solely on fundraisers, grant money, private donations and rent collected for its use. Ramona Sentinel, "Savor Summer Nights in Ramona Town Hall," 19 Aug. 2019 If the Boston-New York toggling goes ahead in perpetuity, noted Monahan, the course location for the New York/New Jersey market undoubtedly will move around, while the TPC course in Norton will remain the Boston site. Kevin Paul Dupont,, "PGA to-do list included return to TPC Boston," 10 Aug. 2019 And, of course, our makeshift monument to the fall of mankind, Our Lady of the Eternal Trash Fire, will continue to burn in perpetuity. Ross Wolinsky, The New Yorker, "We’re Building a New, Non-Apocalyptic LaGuardia Airport," 9 Aug. 2019 Defeat came at a high cost: In 1842, China agreed to cede the island of Hong Kong to the British in perpetuity through the Treaty of Nanjing. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "How Hong Kong’s complex history explains its current crisis with China," 7 Aug. 2019 The rise of social media, where ads can live in perpetuity and popular internet personalities come cheaper than A-list celebrities, has complicated those rules. Alexandra Bruell, WSJ, "Ad Agency Tensions With Union for Commercial Actors Intensify," 17 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'perpetuity.' 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 perpetuity

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for perpetuity

Middle English perpetuite, from Anglo-French perpetuité, from Latin perpetuitat-, perpetuitas, from perpetuus

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Statistics for perpetuity

Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for perpetuity

The first known use of perpetuity was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for perpetuity



English Language Learners Definition of perpetuity

formal : the state of continuing forever or for a very long time


per·​pe·​tu·​i·​ty | \ ˌpər-pə-ˈtü-ə-tē, -ˈtyü- How to pronounce perpetuity (audio) \
plural perpetuities

Legal Definition of perpetuity

1 : the quality, state, or duration of being perpetual devised to them in perpetuity
2a : the condition of a future estate limited in such a way as not to vest within the period fixed by law for the vesting of an estate also : a limitation that gives rise to such a situation
b : an estate that will not vest within the period fixed by law — see also rule against perpetuities, statutory rule against perpetuities
3 : an annuity payable forever

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Comments on perpetuity

What made you want to look up perpetuity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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