pla·​gia·​rism | \ ˈplā-jə-ˌri-zəm also -jē-ə- How to pronounce plagiarism (audio) \

Definition of plagiarism

1 : an act or instance of plagiarizing
2 : something plagiarized

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Other Words from plagiarism

plagiarist \ ˈplā-​jə-​rist How to pronounce plagiarist (audio) also  -​jē-​ə \ noun
plagiaristic \ ˌplā-​jə-​ˈri-​stik How to pronounce plagiaristic (audio) also  -​jē-​ə-​ \ adjective

The Kidnapping Roots of Plagiarize

If schools wish to impress upon their students how serious an offense plagiarism is, they might start with an explanation of the word’s history. Plagiarize (and plagiarism) comes from the Latin plagiarius “kidnapper.” This word, derived from the Latin plaga (“a net used by hunters to catch game”), extended its meaning in Latin to include a person who stole the words, rather than the children, of another. When plagiarius first entered English in the form plagiary, it kept its original reference to kidnapping, a sense that is now quite obsolete.

Examples of plagiarism in a Sentence

The student has been accused of plagiarism.
Recent Examples on the Web In 2002, the historians Stephen E. Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin, both Mayhew authors, were accused of plagiarism. Anita Gates, New York Times, "Alice Mayhew, Who Edited a Who’s Who of Writers, Dies at 87," 4 Feb. 2020 In 2002, historians Stephen E. Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin, both authors of hers, were accused of plagiarism. Anita Gates,, "Alice Mayhew, editor of a who’s who of writers, 87," 4 Feb. 2020 Last August, one of the country’s most successful podcasts was accused of multiple incidents of plagiarism. Hugh Eakin, Harper's magazine, "Selective Hearing," 19 Jan. 2020 Chekhovich believes most instances are due to self-plagiarism. Dalmeet Singh Chawla, Science | AAAS, "Russian journals retract more than 800 papers after ‘bombshell’ investigation," 8 Jan. 2020 But only Biden has had a previous presidential campaign derailed by revelations of plagiarism and false statements. Author: Neena Satija, Anchorage Daily News, "Echoes of Biden’s 1987 plagiarism scandal continue to reverberate," 5 June 2019 Lytvyn and Shevchenko had created a plagiarism-detection product called MyDropBox. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "The New Yorker," 25 May 2018 She was fired from a Dallas Morning News internship amid accusations of plagiarism but soon found work as a music critic, and began turning an unpublished 20,000-word article about Harvard into a personal account of depression. Harrison Smith, Anchorage Daily News, "Elizabeth Wurtzel, ‘Prozac Nation’ author who spurred a memoir boom, dies at 52," 8 Jan. 2020 But Lavery’s lustre dimmed a bit in 2004, when she got hit with plagiarism allegations., "It’s also been mounted at numerous regional theaters, including at the New Repertory Theatre in Watertown in 2006.," 18 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'plagiarism.' 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 plagiarism

1621, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for plagiarism

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The first known use of plagiarism was in 1621

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Statistics for plagiarism

Last Updated

22 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Plagiarism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for plagiarism


How to pronounce plagiarism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of plagiarism

: the act of using another person's words or ideas without giving credit to that person : the act of plagiarizing something


pla·​gia·​rism | \ ˈplā-jə-ˌri-zəm How to pronounce plagiarism (audio) \

Kids Definition of plagiarism

: an act of copying the ideas or words of another person without giving credit to that person

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More from Merriam-Webster on plagiarism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with plagiarism

Spanish Central: Translation of plagiarism

Nglish: Translation of plagiarism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of plagiarism for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about plagiarism

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