pla·​gia·​rize | \ ˈplā-jə-ˌrīz also -jē-ə- How to pronounce plagiarize (audio) \
plagiarized; plagiarizing

Definition of plagiarize

transitive verb

: to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own : use (another's production) without crediting the source

intransitive verb

: to commit literary theft : present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source

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Other Words from plagiarize

plagiarizer noun

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 plagiarize in a Sentence

He plagiarized a classmate's report. She plagiarized from an article she read on the Internet.
Recent Examples on the Web Using this newfound benefit to his advantage, Jack begins plagiarizing the work of the legendary band to launch his career to superstardom., "Community News For The Enfield Edition," 7 Nov. 2019 At the risk of plagiarizing myself, that is the lead sentence of my first science column, which appeared on this day 25 years ago. Anchorage Daily News, "Little brown bats remain a northern mystery," 2 Nov. 2019 This is revealing because Sun has been repeatedly and credibly accused of various forms of deception, including plagiarizing Tron’s whitepaper and code, that were ultimately revealed by reporters and researchers. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Crypto Needs Journalists More Than It Wants to Admit," 27 Nov. 2019 Plagiarism can become a legal issue if the work plagiarized was copyrighted, as is the case with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette series. Elizabeth Depompei, Indianapolis Star, "Indianapolis-based true crime podcast pulls several episodes after plagiarism accusations," 21 June 2018 Their words were so similar, in fact, that political opponents claimed Mr. Obama plagiarized the Massachusetts governor on more than one occasion. Lacrai Mitchell, CBS News, "New Hampshire, South Carolina Democrats express skepticism about Deval Patrick's chances," 22 Nov. 2019 Thomas Rosica had plagiarized this effulgent passage from an ex-Catholic turned fundamentalist, and reversed its meaning by doing so. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Roma Locuta Est, Deal With It," 28 Oct. 2019 By year six of the Bill O’Brien era, avoiding self-plagiarizing challenges me like no other task. Stephanie Stradley, Houston Chronicle, "Stephanie Stradley's Texans 2019 training camp preview," 23 July 2019 Ignored for decades in New York and Tokyo, driven to madness, even plagiarized by less talented men, Ms. Kusama is enjoying a late and not unmerited surge in public visibility. Jason Farago, New York Times, "Kusama Arrives. Is It Worth Your Time to Wait in Line?," 8 Nov. 2019

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

1660, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for plagiarize


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Time Traveler for plagiarize

Time Traveler

The first known use of plagiarize was in 1660

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Statistics for plagiarize

Last Updated

26 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Plagiarize.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for plagiarize


How to pronounce plagiarize (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of plagiarize

: to use the words or ideas of another person as if they were your own words or ideas


pla·​gia·​rize | \ ˈplā-jə-ˌrīz How to pronounce plagiarize (audio) \
plagiarized; plagiarizing

Legal Definition of plagiarize

transitive verb

: to copy and pass off (the expression of ideas or words of another) as one's own : use (another's work) without crediting the source the book contained plagiarized materialSmith v. Little, Brown & Co., 265 F. Supp. 451 (1965)

intransitive verb

: to present as new and original an idea or work derived from an existing source

Other Words from plagiarize

plagiarism \ -​ˌri-​zəm How to pronounce plagiarism (audio) \ noun
plagiarist \ -​rist How to pronounce plagiarist (audio) \ noun

History and Etymology for plagiarize

from plagiary plagiarist, from Latin plagiarius, literally, kidnapper, from plagium netting of game, kidnapping, from plaga net

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More from Merriam-Webster on plagiarize

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for plagiarize

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with plagiarize

Spanish Central: Translation of plagiarize

Nglish: Translation of plagiarize for Spanish Speakers

Comments on plagiarize

What made you want to look up plagiarize? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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