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

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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


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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Owners also worried that unfettered access would lead to trespassing on adjacent dry or marsh land, increased trash and crime, loss of privacy and potential liability if a member of the public is injured on land accessed via public waterways. Tristan Baurick,, "Lawmakers reject effort to make Louisiana coastal waters public," 18 Apr. 2018 The brother of Parkland gunman Nikolas Cruz was arrested for allegedly trespassing onto Marjory Stoneman Douglas’s campus. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Trump’s increasingly confrontational approach to Mueller enabled by congressional GOP timidity," 20 Mar. 2018 In the document reviewed by The Associated Press, Erin VanDalinda alleged she had been threatened by Costello four times over a five-month period in 2017 and that Costello had trespassed on their property. Michael Casey, Fox News, "Driver in fatal crash accused of stalking victim's wife," 30 Aug. 2018 Because the mayor has declared an emergency, anyone caught trespassing or looting faces heightened fines or jail time if convicted. Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY, "New evacuations ordered on Hawaii's Big Island as lava flows from volcano threaten roads, destroy homes," 1 June 2018 The area made international headlines last year when an American missionary trespassed onto the Andamans’ North Sentinel Island and was apparently killed by its local people who have not been otherwise exposed to the outside world. Ella Riley-adams, Vogue, "Why India’s Andaman Islands Could Be the New Maldives," 4 Jan. 2019 Scott said, an apparent reference to Monday’s arrest of Zachary Cruz on trespassing charges. Scott Travis,, "Gov. Rick Scott offers to put cops at every Stoneman Douglas entry to ease parents' fears," 20 Mar. 2018 The half-brother of Nikolas Cruz, who's charged with killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Valentine's Day, was arrested and charged with trespassing at the school on Monday. Alex Johnson, NBC News, "Brother of suspected Florida school gunman charged with trespassing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS," 19 Mar. 2018 Zachary Cruz was arrested and charged with trespassing on school grounds, according to the online Broward County Sheriff’s database. Alexia Fernandez,, "Brother of Fla. School Shooter Arrested for Allegedly Trespassing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High," 19 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Penalties for trespass were severe, and poaching was a capital offense. Gerard Helferich, WSJ, "‘This Land Is Our Land’ Review: Taking the Long Way Around," 25 May 2018 That was the issue when a mall in California tried to use state trespass laws to keep counterprotesters from demonstrating and handing out literature there, in Pruneyard v. Robins. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Trump keeps complaining about bias on Twitter — but what can he do about it? 8 experts weigh in.," 23 Aug. 2018 The Fort Bend County Precinct 2 constable deputy thought the man was trying steal from the store, and took him to the office to issue a trespass warning, according to the Houston Police Department. Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, "Houston man accused of shooting self while fighting deputy in Fiesta Mart bathroom," 6 July 2018 In December, for instance, police issued criminal trespass warnings to eight people suspected of posting racist flyers on Texas State University's campus in San Marcos. Michael Kunzelman,, "U.S. colleges see sharp rise in white supremacist propaganda: data," 28 June 2018 She was issued a criminal trespass warning and sent on her way. Jeff Piorkowski/special To,, "Driver who overdosed is revived: Lyndhurst police blotter," 8 May 2018 For that matter, some aren’t allowed to trespass beyond the fifth. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Jhoulys Chacin, Hernan Perez come through when needed most to keep Brewers chugging along," 5 July 2018 This usage first emerged among Massachusetts lawyers applying the state’s laws on criminal trespass by drafting notices warning malefactors to stay off private property. Ben Zimmer, WSJ, "An Old Rebuff for a Beer-Throwing NFL Fan," 19 Oct. 2018 In Georgia, criminal trespass is a misdemeanor offense. Fox News, "Video from 2011 creates headaches for Sinema," 12 Oct. 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for trespass

Last Updated

24 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for trespass

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

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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

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Comments on trespass

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something valued as if it were money

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