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 Still, Norton and Larson maintain that Thomas wasn’t actually guilty of treason, and certainly not of conspiring to kill the king. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 June 2022 Others accused Rian Johnson of treason for his more subversive approach to The Last Jedi. Grayson Quay, The Week, 1 June 2022 Perhaps as a result of such alarming schemes, Henry IV, Mr. Young notes, is the first in a long line of kings who explicitly connected the practice of magic to treason. William Tipper, WSJ, 23 May 2022 Medvedchuk was initially placed on house arrest in May 2021 after Ukraine accused him of treason. Mason Bissada, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 The opposition responded by accusing Khan of treason and asking the country’s highest court to rule on whether the prime minister had breached the constitution. Sophia Saifi, CNN, 7 Apr. 2022 Toward the end of the war, Franziska was arrested on charges of treason and was accused of acting as an informant. Lauren Collins, The New Yorker, 4 Apr. 2022 Benson faced an onslaught of criticism in the wake of the 2020 election and told NBC News last week, for the first time publicly, that Trump said in a White House meeting she should be arrested for treason and executed. Libby Cathey, ABC News, 23 May 2022 Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson told NBC News that she was told then-President Trump suggested she should be arrested for treason and executed. Ben Kamisar, NBC News, 20 May 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

12 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Treason.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 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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