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 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 So the Constitution defines an impeachable offense as treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors. CBS News, "Transcript: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on "Face the Nation," November 17, 2019," 17 Nov. 2019 Trump branded the Op-Ed as treason and many of his surrogates and supporters have condemned the paper for running it. Brian Flood, Fox News, "Anonymous, ‘gutless’ New York Times anti-Trump Op-Ed draws ire from critics across political spectrum," 7 Sep. 2018 Though the word has gotten plenty of attention in Washington of late, not standing during a speech certainly does not count as treason. Ali Vitali, NBC News, "Trump: Democrats muted State of the Union reaction ‘treasonous,’ ‘un-American’," 5 Feb. 2018 The court had ruled that her husband, Omoyele Sowore, should be free on bail while awaiting trial on charges of treason, money laundering and, for criticizing President Muhammadu Buhari on television, cyberstalking. Ruth Maclean, New York Times, "Nigeria Cracks Down on a Critic, and a New Jersey Town Pushes Back," 22 Dec. 2019 When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers. David Remnick, The New Yorker, "Trump’s Impeachment and “Impeachment Lite”," 19 Dec. 2019 When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus he opportunity to face his accusers. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Watching President Donald Trump's impeachment was weird, wild and historic TV," 18 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.

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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

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Treason.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

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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

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