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

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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 The Major incident reminded me of the terrifically ludicrous story of how King Henry VII, the first of the Tudor monarchs, supposedly had his own dogs hung for treason. Grant Addison, Washington Examiner, "Then and Now: Pets," 1 Apr. 2021 Mandela is part of a sensational treason trial and goes underground after being acquitted. Steve Johnson,, "‘Mandela’ exhibit tells story of South African freedom fight at Illinois Holocaust Museum," 25 Feb. 2021 The subsequent treason trial of Castner Hanway, one of the white bystanders, resulted in an acquittal. James Delle, Smithsonian Magazine, "In 1851, a Maryland Farmer Tried to Kidnap Free Blacks in Pennsylvania. He Wasn’t Expecting the Neighborhood to Fight Back," 17 Jan. 2020 Various rabbis and Jewish community leaders accused Roth of cultural treason. David Remnick, The New Yorker, "The Secrets Philip Roth Didn’t Keep," 22 Mar. 2021 Corruption, secrecy, lack of accountability, straight up crimes, treason, name it. Alex Konrad, Forbes, "Chris Sacca Unretired: The Billionaire Investor On Biden, Crypto, NFTs And Why He’s Back Investing In Climate Startups," 10 Mar. 2021 Arizona Democrats sent a letter Jan. 19 to acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and FBI Director Christopher Wray calling for an investigation into potential acts of sedition and treason by Arizona Republicans. Ronald J. Hansen, The Arizona Republic, "Report: Biggs, Gosar and Lesko produced more troubling post-election social media than any other delegation," 5 Mar. 2021 There are no reports of any individuals being hanged in 1863 for treason against Lincoln. Miriam Fauzia, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Meme's claim about 4 hangings related to Lincoln's election is false," 31 Jan. 2021 From Ken Paxton to Greg Abbott to Kyle Biedermann, Texas Republicans are supporting treason. Alex Briseno, Dallas News, "Texas Republican state House member says he marched in D.C. before U.S. Capitol riot," 15 Jan. 2021

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.

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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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Time Traveler for treason

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for treason

Last Updated

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Treason.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for treason



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 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

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