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

The allocation will create an endowment in which the money is invested and interest and earnings are used to fund the tuition costs in perpetuity. Dallas News, "UT-Austin promises free tuition to students with family income less than $65,000 in 2020," 9 July 2019 Seeing the beloved creature of my childhood petrified mid-prance in perpetuity was crushing. Sarah Maslin Nir, New York Times, "Following in the Wake of a Storybook Pony," 8 July 2019 Smart speaker manufactures, like Amazon, should have to obtain a consumer’s consent before the company retains recordings and transcripts in perpetuity. Levi Sumagaysay, The Mercury News, "Do you talk to Alexa a lot? Here’s what Amazon keeps and deletes," 3 July 2019 The public’s participation and support of military heroes will live in perpetuity through the memorial., "Community News For The East Hartford Edition," 2 July 2019 Ownership of her previous recordings remains with Big Machine in perpetuity, according to people familiar with the matter. Anne Steele, WSJ, "Scooter Braun Makes $300 Million Deal for Big Machine Records," 30 June 2019 Britain had secured the heart of Hong Kong in perpetuity as spoils of the 19th-century Opium Wars but the final part, the New Territories, was acquired on a 99-year lease in 1898. A.k., The Economist, "What is China’s “one country, two systems” policy?," 30 June 2019 Brewer estimates that, for Warley Parka alone, an endowment of at least $4 million will be necessary to ensure there’s enough money in perpetuity. Kate Santich,, "Seminole’s Warley Park — is this the new model for homeless housing?," 27 June 2019 If Elizabeth Warren has her way, religious people around the country will be counted among the latter in perpetuity. John Hirschauer, National Review, "Reparations for Everyone, Apparently," 26 June 2019

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

19 Jul 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).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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