plagiarize

verb

pla·​gia·​rize ˈplā-jə-ˌrīz How to pronounce plagiarize (audio)
 also  -jē-ə-
plagiarized; plagiarizing

transitive verb

: to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own : use (another's production) without crediting the source

intransitive verb

: to commit literary theft : present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source
plagiarizer noun

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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.

Example Sentences

He plagiarized a classmate's report. She plagiarized from an article she read on the Internet.
Recent Examples on the Web Second, the church cast itself as the victim of fault-finders who dared to imagine that an apostle who had served as a university president should not plagiarize the writings of others. The Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Oct. 2022 Hedwig and the Angry Inch began as an off-Broadway play in 1998 about a genderqueer East German rock singer who develops a relationship with a younger man, Tommy (Pitt), only to have Tommy plagiarize her songs. Kara Warner, PEOPLE.com, 13 Aug. 2021 Fake sites plagiarize all their content, or have no content at all. Dr. Augustine Fou, Forbes, 18 Apr. 2021 Gibbs said the collection was a guide to women's health and it had been plagiarized from other similar writings during the same period. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, 12 Sep. 2019 The fledgling group, which has just 36 members, is also encouraging universities to make greater efforts to detect plagiarism—such as by installing software that can detect plagiarized material—and to penalize those who copy. Linda Nordling, Science | AAAS, 27 June 2018

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

Word History

Etymology

plagiary

First Known Use

1660, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of plagiarize was in 1660

Dictionary Entries Near plagiarize

Cite this Entry

“Plagiarize.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plagiarize. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

plagiarize

verb

pla·​gia·​rize ˈplā-jə-ˌrīz How to pronounce plagiarize (audio)
plagiarized; plagiarizing
: to steal and pass off (as the ideas or words of another) as one's own
plagiarized a classmate's homework
plagiarizer noun

Legal Definition

plagiarize

verb

pla·​gia·​rize ˈplā-jə-ˌrīz How to pronounce plagiarize (audio)
plagiarized; plagiarizing

transitive verb

: to copy and pass off (the expression of ideas or words of another) as one's own : use (another's work) without crediting the source
the book contained plagiarized material Smith v. Little, Brown & Co., 265 F. Supp. 451 (1965)

intransitive verb

: to present as new and original an idea or work derived from an existing source
plagiarism noun
plagiarist noun

History and Etymology for plagiarize

from plagiary plagiarist, from Latin plagiarius, literally, kidnapper, from plagium netting of game, kidnapping, from plaga net

More from Merriam-Webster on plagiarize

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