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 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 This included not only the effort to retro-engineer a newer machine to play older games on significantly different hardware, but also starting a conversation with game creators on how to do this and keep their games available in perpetuity. Washington Post, 10 June 2021 Passive income provides for present needs and can be reinvested to generate passive income in perpetuity. Andrew Lanoie, Forbes, 4 June 2021 Similar treaties were entered into by many of the other tribes in the watershed with promises they would be provided adequate access to water to sustain their way of life in perpetuity. oregonlive, 3 June 2021 Landowners retain the right to manage and own the land but must follow certain conservation guidelines, and the land is set aside for agriculture in perpetuity. Tara Duggan, San Francisco Chronicle, 2 June 2021 United helps passengers and corporate customers buy offsets, but Mr. Kirby said the company was focusing more on sustainable fuel and removing and storing carbon in perpetuity. New York Times, 28 May 2021 This year's report has found that over 2.77m people live further than a 10-minute walk from a local park or green space and only 6% of all parks and green spaces are protected in perpetuity. Simon Perry,, 27 May 2021 The winner accepts the trophy and holds the title—and a Wikipedia entry—in perpetuity. Arun Shastri, Forbes, 25 May 2021 Peters and several neighbors want the church to give Cottonwood Heights an opportunity to buy the property at a fair market rate and preserve it as public space in perpetuity. Leia Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 22 May 2021

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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Time Traveler for perpetuity

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

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Statistics for perpetuity

Last Updated

13 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Perpetuity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

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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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