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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Fearing he would get tried for treason, Benjamin fled the country via the plantation before eventually becoming a barrister in England. Vanessa Hua,, "Plantation’s ugly history gets under the skin," 6 Feb. 2020 The Constitution provides that the House of Representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment and that the president shall be removed from office on impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. NBC News, "Transcript: Not Guilty," 6 Feb. 2020 Agba Jalingo, publisher of CrossRiverWatch was picked up August 30 in Cross River for treason and disturbing the peace. Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo, Quartz Africa, "Nigeria has been quietly crushing press freedom—but now the world is watching," 9 Dec. 2019 Sowore was hit with various charges following his arrest, including treason, cyberstalking and money laundering, according to the Clooney Foundation. Rachel Desantis,, "N.J.-Based Journalist Jailed in Nigeria for Months as Amal Clooney & Others Call for His Release," 22 Nov. 2019 Elizabeth, though hurt and betrayed, agrees not to reveal Blunt’s treason because the story would jeopardize M15's relationship with the CIA. Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, "The Crown Is Back and More Addictive Than Ever," 18 Nov. 2019 When reigning champions rock up at Goodison, treason is often on the cards., "Everton vs Manchester City: 7 Key Facts & Stats to Impress Your Mates Ahead of Premier League Clash," 28 Sep. 2019 Trump views the truth as treason and truth-tellers as traitors. TheWeek, "All the president's turncoats," 27 Jan. 2020 The report examines treason, bribery, serious abuse of power, betrayal of the national interest through foreign entanglements, and corruption of office and elections. Arkansas Online, "Panel details its legal take on impeachment," 8 Dec. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about treason

Time Traveler for treason

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for treason

Last Updated

29 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Treason.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for treason


How to pronounce treason (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of treason

: the crime of trying to overthrow your country's government or of helping your country's enemies during war


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 treasonous (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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on treason

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

March 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • field of crocuses
  • Which is a synonym of rectitudinous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!