trea·son | \ ˈtrē-zᵊn \

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

Pound’s lawyer negotiated his restriction to St. Elizabeths in lieu of facing a death penalty trial for treason. Wayne Catan, idahostatesman, "Book delves into intriguing, misunderstood, maddening mind of Idaho-born Ezra Pound," 8 June 2018 After the drafting of the Constitution, there was debate about whether the president should need the agreement of Congress in order to pardon someone for treason. Gregory Korte, USA TODAY, "Can Trump really do that? The presidential pardon power, explained," 4 June 2018 In September the president of the main opposition force, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was arrested for treason. The Economist, "A new owner cows Cambodia’s last independent daily newspaper," 8 May 2018 From 1946 to 1958, he was confined at St. Elizabeths, a psychiatric hospital in Washington, D.C., largely as part of legal strategy to keep him from being tried for treason. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Is Kanye West “the Ezra Pound of Rap”?," 30 Apr. 2018 In 1793, during the French Revolution, King Louis XVI, condemned for treason, was executed on the guillotine., "Today in History: January 21, 2018," 21 Jan. 2018 In one known instance, a 9-year-old boy was imprisoned for 10 years because his grandfather was accused of treason. NBC News, "U.S. won't bring up North Korea's human rights issues at Singapore summit," 11 June 2018 This pick, for a poet who was manifestly guilty of fascism and treason, was widely criticized in the press and provoked bitter feuds. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Is Kanye West “the Ezra Pound of Rap”?," 30 Apr. 2018 Carmichael, the Fifth Third CEO, would not comment on Trump's remarks about treason and the Democrats. Sharon Coolidge,, "Trump calls Dems 'treasonous' and 'un-American' while touting tax law in Cincinnati," 5 Feb. 2018

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

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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Statistics for treason

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for treason

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

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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 \

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 \

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 \ adjective

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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).


alleviating pain or harshness

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