pla·​gia·​ry | \ ˈplā-jē-ˌer-ē How to pronounce plagiary (audio) , -jə-rē \
plural plagiaries

Definition of plagiary

1 archaic : one that plagiarizes

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Plagiarius, the Latin source of "plagiary," literally means "kidnapper." "Plagiarius" has its roots in the noun "plagium," meaning both "kidnapping" and "the netting of game," and ultimately in the noun plaga, meaning "net." The literal sense of "plagiarius" was adopted into English; in the 17th and early 18th century, a kidnapper might be referred to as a "plagiary," and, in the legalese of the time, kidnapping was "plagium." But "plagiarius" also had a couple of figurative meanings - "seducer" and "literary thief." It is the latter that has made the most enduring contribution to the English language. A "plagiary" could also be one who commits literary theft (now usually referred to as a "plagiarist") or the act or product of such theft (now, more commonly, "plagiarism").

First Known Use of plagiary

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for plagiary

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

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The first known use of plagiary was in 1601

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Cite this Entry

“Plagiary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jun. 2021.

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