per·​pe·​tu·​i·​ty | \ˌpər-pə-ˈtü-ə-tē, -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

Microsoft is going to be a dominant force in technology, effectively in perpetuity. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Box CEO Aaron Levie on Recode Decode," 11 July 2018 The agreement, which advocates the historical designation, would be a step toward protecting the hotel in perpetuity, Conca said. 2. Meryl Kornfield,, "6 fun things about Pier 66 you probably didn't know," 6 July 2018 Whatever the provenance of the document, it will be kept in perpetuity at the library. Jennifer Schuessler, The Seattle Times, "Jacqueline Kennedy’s notes for Dallas found, starting a quiet tug of war," 2 July 2018 And the restaurant provides revenue to help fund maintenance that will be the developer’s responsibility in perpetuity. Julie V. Iovine, WSJ, "Sweet Design on the Brooklyn Waterfront," 30 June 2018 Societies grow and change, but the mission defined by the creator of the foundation remains the mission in perpetuity. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, "Against Big Philanthropy," 27 June 2018 Stoneleigh and McCormick Farm are, under state law and the eyes of the IRS, protected from development in perpetuity by conservation easements. Maria Panaritis,, "A not-so-funny thing about the road from Villanova to Mechanicsburg | Maria Panaritis," 17 June 2018 And a name, if managed well, can live on in perpetuity. Santi Elijah Holley, The Atlantic, "Remembering Clarence Fountain, a Gospel Legend," 6 June 2018 Founded in 1948 by Moses Asch, Folkways was acquired by Smithsonian in 1987, a year after the founder’s death, with the promise that all 26,168 titles would remain in print in perpetuity. Roger Catlin, Smithsonian, "Songster Dom Flemons Brings Back the Melodies of the Black Cowboy," 30 May 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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The first known use of perpetuity was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of perpetuity

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


per·​pe·​tu·​i·​ty | \ˌpər-pə-ˈtü-ə-tē, -ˈtyü- \
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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by force of circumstances

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