pla·​gia·​rism | \ ˈplā-jə-ˌri-zəm How to pronounce plagiarism (audio) also -jē-ə- \

Essential Meaning of plagiarism

: the act of using another person's words or ideas without giving credit to that person : the act of plagiarizing something The student has been accused of plagiarism.

Full Definition of plagiarism

1 : an act or instance of plagiarizing
2 : something plagiarized

Other Words from plagiarism

plagiarist \ ˈplā-​jə-​rist How to pronounce plagiarism (audio) also  -​jē-​ə \ noun
plagiaristic \ ˌplā-​jə-​ˈri-​stik How to pronounce plagiarism (audio) also  -​jē-​ə-​ \ adjective

The Kidnapping Roots of Plagiarize

If schools wish to impress upon their students how serious an offense plagiarism is, they might start with an explanation of the word’s history. Plagiarize (and plagiarism) comes from the Latin plagiarius “kidnapper.” This word, derived from the Latin plaga (“a net used by hunters to catch game”), extended its meaning in Latin to include a person who stole the words, rather than the children, of another. When plagiarius first entered English in the form plagiary, it kept its original reference to kidnapping, a sense that is now quite obsolete.

Examples of plagiarism in a Sentence

The student has been accused of plagiarism.
Recent Examples on the Web The Report Card is a big fan of originality and even a sniff of plagiarism — no matter if it was inspired by something else — just doesn't sit well. Scooby Axson, USA TODAY, 29 Nov. 2021 The original logo was strikingly similar to that of a Belgian playhouse and ultimately scrapped amid plagiarism allegations. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 July 2021 When Zhang Wenhong, a doctor in Shanghai who has been compared to top American health official Anthony Fauci, briefly raised the prospect of living with the virus, he was shut down by official criticism and a plagiarism investigation. Arkansas Online, 11 Nov. 2021 Some of the top application areas used in this sector are: gaming, fake story detection, plagiarism detection, personalization, production planning and management, sales and marketing and talent identification. Cindy Gordon, Forbes, 30 Sep. 2021 Though there are some legal parameters around what is considered plagiarism and what is not, the interpretation of copyright law is always changing. Kristin Robinson, Billboard, 28 Oct. 2021 Known for: getting fired from The Washington Post over plagiarism; was paid $36,000 to shill in columns for operatically corrupt government of Malaysia. Michael Tomasky, The New Republic, 27 Oct. 2021 An article on Page 26 this weekend about the legal battle between the writers Dawn Dorland and Sonya Larson misstates the GrubStreet writing center’s action after Dorland’s initial questions about potential plagiarism. New York Times, 10 Oct. 2021 Some plagiarism is seemingly benign but gaining social currency, clout, or capital through thievery should come with hefty penalties. Janice Gassam Asare, Forbes, 8 Oct. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'plagiarism.' 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 plagiarism

1621, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of plagiarism was in 1621

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Last Updated

7 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Plagiarism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for plagiarism


pla·​gia·​rism | \ ˈplā-jə-ˌri-zəm How to pronounce plagiarism (audio) \

Kids Definition of plagiarism

: an act of copying the ideas or words of another person without giving credit to that person

More from Merriam-Webster on plagiarism

Nglish: Translation of plagiarism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of plagiarism for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about plagiarism


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