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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Continual existence—that elusive philosophical concept is reflected in perpetuity, which traces to Latin perpetuus, an adjective meaning "continual" or "uninterrupted." The word has specific legal use. It can refer, for example, to an arrangement in a will rendering land forever incapable of being surrendered or transferred (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 First, the plaintiffs gave up the right to sue or seek legal redress against the Church of Scientology in perpetuity. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 27 July 2022 John Locke, after the fall of the Cromwell regime—is a design for perfect feudalism, with social rank and authority corresponding exactly, in perpetuity, to the amount of land held by an individual. Marilynne Robinson, Harper’s Magazine , 20 July 2022 The Kardashians has committed to long-term rights, though, and with original music, shows can secure songs in perpetuity while still maintaining that low cost. Kirsten Chuba, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 July 2022 That's an infinite opportunity to drive revenue in perpetuity. Amy Shoenthal, Forbes, 11 July 2022 On Wednesday, the Summit Land Conservancy and Ogden Valley Land Trust officially secured a conservation easement for 1,050 acres at the site, protecting it as open space in perpetuity. Leia Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 11 July 2022 Based on a decade of their catch history, individual fishermen and companies were granted rights to a percentage of the annual total allowable catch — in perpetuity — free to fish it, sell it or lease it to others. Will Sennott, ProPublica, 6 July 2022 But as with drivers, CPU vendors don't issue these kinds of firmware-level security updates in perpetuity. Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica, 1 July 2022 Will patients like Baker be precluded from discarding unneeded embryos and instead urged to donate them for adoption or compelled to store them in perpetuity? Jan Hoffman,, 5 July 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for perpetuity

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

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Last Updated

31 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Perpetuity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for perpetuity


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

More from Merriam-Webster on perpetuity

Nglish: Translation of perpetuity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of perpetuity for Arabic Speakers


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