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 What is a statue, after all, if not a single story told in perpetuity? Robert Draper, National Geographic, "Toppling statues is a first step toward ending Confederate myths," 2 July 2020 The City Council and CPS Energy in the fall of 2014 signed an agreement allowing the city to utilize a portion of the fiber in perpetuity. Diego Mendoza-moyers,, "How San Antonio plans to tackle the digital divide, expand broadband internet," 12 June 2020 The biggest surprise has been our resilience and innovation in ensuring the business exists now and in perpetuity. Rachel King, Fortune, "Coffee startup BLK & Bold’s cofounders on incorporating social impact into the business model," 8 June 2020 Dorsey told Twitter employees last Tuesday that many of them would be allowed to work from home in perpetuity, even after the coronavirus pandemic ended and business returned to normal. NBC News, "Following Twitter, Square to also let employees work from home going forward," 13 May 2020 The lights were on at the Skechers store, which appeared empty inside and where a shoe in a display case spun in perpetuity. Los Angeles Times, "California begins reopening economy as select businesses unlock doors," 8 May 2020 Properties seized, finagled, extorted, or paid for with cold, hard cash remain American in perpetuity. Andrew J. Bacevich, Harper's Magazine, "The Old Normal," 27 Apr. 2020 Properties seized, finagled, extorted, or paid for with cold, hard cash remain American in perpetuity. Andrew J. Bacevich, Harper's Magazine, "The Old Normal," 27 Apr. 2020 Private foundations are required to make an annual distribution of at least 5% of their assets, including an allowance for administrative costs — allowing them to exist in perpetuity given historical investment returns. Los Angeles Times, "Charity is off the charts amid the coronavirus. Is that a sign of America’s strength or weakness?," 20 Apr. 2020

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

6 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Perpetuity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for perpetuity


How to pronounce perpetuity (audio)

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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