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

Next to Philadelphia, a zero, like the chip that rests in perpetuity atop this city’s shoulder, or a scarlet number across its chest. David Murphy,, "Look out, world: a golden age of Philadelphia sports is about to arrive | David Murphy," 2 Feb. 2018 It was built to be a Republican district in perpetuity, which is why its days are numbered right now. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "Conor Lamb's Victory Matters, and Paul Ryan Should Be Scared," 14 Mar. 2018 So much of life is bland and predictable, a series of Cream of Wheat days that listlessly follow one another into beige perpetuity. Alfred Lubrano,, "As Philadelphia braces for Super Bowl, Eagles fans revel, worry, pray," 4 Feb. 2018 Wiegand said communities had to provide the land and commit to supporting the library in perpetuity with revenue equal to 10 percent of the grant. Robert Mitchell, Washington Post, "Andrew Carnegie built 1,700 public libraries. But some towns refused the steel baron’s money.," 9 Apr. 2018 Neguinho’s vision was long-term: to form an all-female drum group, but also ensure the perpetuity of the group by offering free instrument-making workshops and music lessons for women and children at the house. New York Times, "They Told the Women in Bahia They Couldn’t Drum. Try Telling That to Banda Didá.," 30 Jan. 2018 Once funded, the scholarship will provide $4,000 a year in perpetuity toward tuition for a promising journalism student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Robert Duffer,, "Best rides of 2017," 26 Dec. 2017 In short, people were mad at Netflix for not making sure that Friends would be available to stream in perpetuity, just as people had been mad at Netflix for canceling the show. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Why Netflix could have lost Friends — and what it means for the future of streaming," 11 Dec. 2018 Liberal politicians defend color-conscious policies to win votes, and courts assure us the policies will not exist in perpetuity. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, "Racial Preferences Aren’t Only an American Problem," 11 Dec. 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

26 Apr 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).


something valued as if it were money

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