treason

noun

trea·​son ˈtrē-zᵊn How to pronounce treason (audio)
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 Since the court could not prove treason, the now 18-year-old received only three years in prison for sabotaging the war effort. Wolf Gruner, The Conversation, 29 Aug. 2023 The most controversial has been a proposal to use martial law powers to punish corruption as treason. Andrew E. Kramer, BostonGlobe.com, 4 Sep. 2023 These are the Ukrainian agencies that could lose power under Mr. Zelensky’s treason proposal. Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, 4 Sep. 2023 On Sunday evening, before the military accused Bazoum of treason, a member of the junta’s communication team told journalists that the regime had approved talks with ECOWAS, which would take place in the coming days. Time, 14 Aug. 2023 This video is currently not available Mohamed Bazoum, the deposed president of Niger, may face treason charges, the junta that unseated him last month announced, marking a new escalation in tensions with neighboring countries that are pondering military action against the coup leaders. Rick Noack, Washington Post, 14 Aug. 2023 Nation/World Mohamed Bazoum, the deposed president of Niger, may face treason charges, the junta that unseated him last month announced, marking a new escalation in tensions with neighboring countries that are pondering military action against the coup leaders. Rick Noack, Anchorage Daily News, 14 Aug. 2023 After his speech at the Des Moines Register's Political Soapbox at the fair Thursday, Pence took questions from the audience, including one from an attendee who accused him of committing treason on Jan. 6, 2021. Stephen Gruber-Miller, USA TODAY, 11 Aug. 2023 For instance, the current 2024 Tundra can’t be configured with a V-8 engine, an act that would border on treason with certain traditional truck-buyer demographics. Andrew Wendler, Car and Driver, 8 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'treason.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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

Dictionary Entries Near treason

Cite this Entry

“Treason.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/treason. Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition

treason

noun
trea·​son ˈtrēz-ᵊn How to pronounce treason (audio)
1
: the betrayal of a trust : treachery
2
: the crime of attempting to overthrow the government of one's country or of attempting to kill or injure the ruler or the ruler's family
Etymology

Middle English tresoun "treason," from early French traisun (same meaning), from Latin tradition-, traditio "the action of handing over, tradition, betrayal," from tradere "to hand over, betray," from tra-, trans- "across" and dare "to give" — related to tradition, traitor

Word Origin
The words treason and tradition both come from the same Latin source. The Latin word traditio meant "teaching" or "tradition." These senses developed from its basic meaning, which was "the act of handing something over." Tradition is maintained by passing information from one generation to another. One kind of treason is committed when someone who has been entrusted with secret information passes it on to someone else. The word tradition was borrowed directly from the Latin traditio. Treason, on the other hand, came to us through early French, where traditio had changed into the word traisun.

Legal Definition

treason

noun
trea·​son ˈtrēz-ᵊn How to pronounce treason (audio)
: 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
treasonous adjective
Etymology

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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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