tres·​pass | \ ˈtre-ˌspas also -spəs How to pronounce trespass (audio) \
trespassed; trespassing; trespasses

Definition of trespass

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to commit a trespass especially : to enter unlawfully upon the land of another
2a : err, sin
b : to make an unwarranted or uninvited incursion

transitive verb

: violate trespass the bounds of good taste


tres·​pass | \ ˈtre-spəs How to pronounce trespass (audio) , -ˌspas\

Definition of trespass (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : an unlawful act committed on the person, property, or rights of another especially : a wrongful entry on real property
b : the legal action for injuries resulting from trespass
2a : a violation of moral or social ethics : transgression especially : sin
b : an unwarranted infringement

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from trespass


trespasser noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for trespass

Synonyms: Verb

err, fall, offend, sin, stray, transgress, wander

Synonyms: Noun

breach, crime, debt, error, lawbreaking, malefaction, misdeed, misdoing, offense (or offence), sin, transgression, violation, wrongdoing

Antonyms: Noun


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for trespass


trespass, encroach, infringe, invade mean to make inroads upon the property, territory, or rights of another. trespass implies an unwarranted or unlawful intrusion. hunters trespassing on farmland encroach suggests gradual or stealthy entrance upon another's territory or usurpation of another's rights or possessions. the encroaching settlers displacing the native peoples infringe implies an encroachment clearly violating a right or prerogative. infringing a copyright invade implies a hostile and injurious entry into the territory or sphere of another. accused of invading their privacy

Examples of trespass in a Sentence


He told me I was trespassing. The sign said “No Trespassing.”


He was arrested for trespass. forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The man in the video, Christopher Cukor, alleged that Michel was trespassing into the complex and demanded that Michel identify his friend on the apartment's call box. Jordan Culver, USA TODAY, "'Daddy, let's go, please': Son tearfully protests as dad calls cops on black man, video shows," 10 July 2019 On June 29, police responded to the Wildberry Pool in reference to subjects trespassing on the property. Cheryl Higley,, "Man charged with assaulting Taco Bell employee: Avon Lake Police Blotter," 5 July 2019 Hammer said people from the camp trespassed on her property and broke into her home., "Portland’s homeless campers face new obstacle: piles of boulders," 4 July 2019 The incident sparked outrage on social media, and the State Attorney's Offfice declined to charge the teen, who was arrested on charges including resisting arrest and trespassing. trespassing. Darran Simon, CNN, "NAACP and attorneys call for charges after teen's head was slammed into ground during arrest," 26 June 2019 On June 12, 2018, Phoenix police responded to a call of a man trespassing at an extended-stay hotel on Osborn Road near Second Avenue., "Police shootings in Arizona," 19 June 2019 In the property rights case last week, the justices set a clear legal standard that natural gas companies can’t trespass on a person’s land, without permission, to tap into gas reserves from neighboring tracts. Ken Ward Jr., ProPublica, "Fracking Companies Lost on Trespassing, but a Court Just Gave Them a Different Win," 12 June 2019 The homeless man, who was trespassed by Sheetz, was given a ride to a local motel. John Benson,, "Quick-change scam pulled on Chick-fil-A cashier: Strongsville Police Blotter," 26 June 2019 Wilson, who has a criminal record that includes assault, trespassing and burglary, pleaded not guilty to the charges involving Johnson-Barr. USA Today, "A deadly place: Alaska is the most dangerous state for women, now they're fighting back," 25 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Afterward, the Wilks family hired a lobbyist to push for a law that would stiffen penalties for trespass. Julie Turkewitz, New York Times, "Who Gets to Own the West?," 22 June 2019 Emanuel, Providence and OHSU accounted for the most trespass calls to police., "Report: Hospital calls about ‘unwanted’ people trespassing leads to jail, criminalizing mental illness," 18 June 2019 The boy was gone before officers arrived but will be filed on in juvenile court for criminal trespass., "Mom provides no proof of babysitter after four-year-old wanders from home: South Euclid Police Blotter," 12 June 2019 Records show that in just the past six weeks, Metra police had arrested him six times for criminal trespass. Zak Koeske, Daily Southtown, "State police investigating death of detainee at Markham lockup," 27 June 2018 Perkins is charged with felony theft by taking and criminal trespass for an unlawful purpose, a misdemeanor, Channel 2 reported. Steve Burns, ajc, "Suspected Cobb appliance thief took washers, dryers, refrigerators," 21 May 2018 Hughes has a conviction for trespass without warning. David J. Neal, miamiherald, "He got busted for bomb threats to a mosque, prosecutors say, partially by caller ID | Miami Herald," 16 May 2018 Chris Sakowicz and Vincent Keller, both 18, were arrested and charged with first-degree arson, first-degree burglary with a deadly weapon, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree criminal trespass. Tess Vrbin,, "Stratford is crowdfunding to rebuild the American Shakespeare Theatre — starting with an arts and culture festival," 12 June 2019 In August 2017, nine months after the three students were arrested, all three pleaded guilty to attempted theft and aggravated trespass. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Ohio bakery awarded $11 million in libel lawsuit against Oberlin College over alleged racial profiling," 10 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'trespass.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of trespass


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 2a


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for trespass


Middle English, from Anglo-French trespasser to overtake, exceed, wrong, from tres to a high degree (from Latin trans beyond) + passer to pass — more at through, pass


Middle English trespas, from Anglo-French, passage, overstepping, misdeed, from trespasser

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about trespass

Statistics for trespass

Last Updated

17 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for trespass

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for trespass



English Language Learners Definition of trespass

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to go on someone's land without permission
old-fashioned : to do something that hurts or offends someone
formal : to treat someone unfairly especially by asking for or expecting more than is fair or reasonable



English Language Learners Definition of trespass (Entry 2 of 2)

law : the crime of going on someone's land without permission
old-fashioned : a sin or other wrong or improper act


tres·​pass | \ ˈtres-pəs How to pronounce trespass (audio) , -ˌpas\

Kids Definition of trespass

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : unlawful entry upon someone's land


trespassed; trespassing

Kids Definition of trespass (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to enter upon someone's land unlawfully
2 : to do wrong : sin

Other Words from trespass

trespasser noun


tres·​pass | \ ˈtres-pəs, -ˌpas How to pronounce trespass (audio) \

Legal Definition of trespass

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: wrongful conduct causing harm to another: as
a : a willful act or active negligence as distinguished from a mere omission of a duty that causes an injury to or invasion of the person, rights, or especially property of another also : the common-law form of action for redress of injuries directly caused by such a wrongful act — compare trespass on the case in this entry
b : trespass quare clausum fregit in this entry
computer trespass
: the act of using or gaining access to a computer or computer network without authorization especially for the purpose of committing a crime or harming or removing programs, data, or hardware
continuing trespass
: a trespass that continues until the act (as of depriving another of his or her property without the intent to steal it) or instrumentality (as an object placed wrongfully on another's land) causing it is ended or removed
criminal trespass
: trespass to property that is forbidden by statute and punishable as a crime as distinguished from trespass that creates a cause of action for damages
trespass ab initio
: a trespass that arises upon a lawful act which because of subsequent unlawful or wrongful conduct is deemed under a legal fiction to have been trespassory from the beginning
trespass de bonis asportatis \ -​dē-​ˈbō-​nis-​ˌas-​pȯr-​ˈtā-​tis, -​dā-​ˈbō-​nēs-​ˌäs-​pȯr-​ˈtä-​tēs \ probably from Medieval Latin (trangressio) de bonis asportatis (trespass) concerning property carried off
: a common-law form of action to recover for trespass involving the carrying off of one's goods by another
trespass on the case
: a common-law form of action to recover for another's wrongful act that indirectly causes one's injury

called also action on the case, case

trespass quare clausum fregit \ -​ˈkwer-​ē-​ˈklȯ-​zəm-​ˈfrē-​jət, -​ˈkwä-​rā-​ˈklau̇-​su̇m-​ˈfrā-​gēt \ probably from Medieval Latin (transgressio) quare clausum fregit (trespass) whereby he or she broke into a close (tenement protected by law of trespass)
: a trespass that involves wrongful and tortious entry on another's real property
trespass to try title
: an action brought as a means of obtaining redress for a trespass to real property and determining the title to the property
trespass vi et armis \ -​ˈvī-​ˌet-​ˈär-​mis, -​ˈvē-​, -​ˌmēs \ Latin vi et armis with force and arms
: a trespass involving intentional infliction of injury on a person

Legal Definition of trespass (Entry 2 of 2)

: to commit a trespass especially : to enter wrongfully or without proper authority or consent upon the real property of another

transitive verb

: to commit a trespass against

History and Etymology for trespass


Anglo-French trespas violation of the law, actionable wrong, from Old French, crossing, passage, from trespasser to go across, from tres across + passer to pass

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on trespass

What made you want to look up trespass? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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