trea·​son | \ ˈtrē-zᵊn How to pronounce treason (audio) \

Definition of treason

1 : the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign's family
2 : the betrayal of a trust : treachery

Examples of treason in a Sentence

He is guilty of treason. reading a friend's diary without permission would have to be regarded as the ultimate act of personal treason
Recent Examples on the Web White supremacy almost destroyed the nation during antebellum slavery, triggered secession, treason and a catastrophic Civil War where over 600,000 Americans perished. Peniel E. Joseph, CNN, 16 May 2022 Ukrainian prosecutors have brought hundreds of cases against Ukrainians in Donbas for treason and sedition. New York Times, 16 Jan. 2022 In June, police arrested seven potential challengers to Ortega on charges that essentially amount to treason. The Associated. Press, Arkansas Online, 9 Nov. 2021 He was convicted of mutiny, treason and corruption. Dasl Yoon, WSJ, 26 Oct. 2021 Morales still faces charges of treason and sedition lodged by prosecutors under the conservative interim government, which accused him of stirring violent protests and spent much of the past 12 months attempting to reverse his policies. Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2020 The Senate has expelled 15 members since 1789 — one for treason and 14 for supporting the Confederacy during the Civil War. Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 Apr. 2022 Croft, a trucker from Bear, Del., vented on social media about hanging governors for treason, and he was repeatedly recorded talking about violence and explosives. Arkansas Online, 2 Apr. 2022 Croft, a trucker from Bear, Delaware, vented on social media about hanging governors for treason, and he was repeatedly recorded talking about violence and explosives. John Flesher And Ed White, USA TODAY, 1 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'treason.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of treason

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for treason

Middle English tresoun, from Anglo-French traisun, from Latin tradition-, traditio act of handing over, from tradere to hand over, betray — more at traitor

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The first known use of treason was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Treason.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for treason


trea·​son | \ ˈtrē-zᵊn How to pronounce treason (audio) \

Kids Definition of treason

: the crime of trying or helping to overthrow the government of the criminal's own country or cause its defeat in war


trea·​son | \ ˈtrēz-ᵊn How to pronounce treason (audio) \

Legal Definition of treason

: the offense of attempting to overthrow the government of one's country or of assisting its enemies in war specifically : the act of levying war against the United States or adhering to or giving aid and comfort to its enemies by one who owes it allegiance

Other Words from treason

treasonous \ -​əs How to pronounce treason (audio) \ adjective

History and Etymology for treason

Anglo-French treison crime of violence against a person to whom allegiance is owed, literally, betrayal, from Old French traïson, from traïr to betray, from Latin tradere to hand over, surrender

More from Merriam-Webster on treason

Nglish: Translation of treason for Spanish Speakers

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


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