treason

noun

trea·​son ˈtrē-zᵊn How to pronounce treason (audio)
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

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 The local law criminalizes treason, insurrection, theft of state secrets and espionage, sabotage endangering national security, and external interference. Jennifer Jett, NBC News, 20 Mar. 2024 On Tuesday, the city’s legislature, stacked with pro-Beijing lawmakers, passed a sweeping package of laws targeting treason, espionage, theft of state secrets, sedition and foreign interference, with sentences of up to life imprisonment. Lily Kuo, Washington Post, 19 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for treason 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'treason.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English tresoun, from Anglo-French traisun, from Latin tradition-, traditio act of handing over, from tradere to hand over, betray — more at traitor

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of treason was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near treason

Cite this Entry

“Treason.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/treason. Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

treason

noun
trea·​son ˈtrēz-ᵊn How to pronounce treason (audio)
1
: the betrayal of a trust : treachery
2
: the crime of attempting to overthrow the government of one's country or of attempting to kill or injure the ruler or the ruler's family
Etymology

Middle English tresoun "treason," from early French traisun (same meaning), from Latin tradition-, traditio "the action of handing over, tradition, betrayal," from tradere "to hand over, betray," from tra-, trans- "across" and dare "to give" — related to tradition, traitor

Word Origin
The words treason and tradition both come from the same Latin source. The Latin word traditio meant "teaching" or "tradition." These senses developed from its basic meaning, which was "the act of handing something over." Tradition is maintained by passing information from one generation to another. One kind of treason is committed when someone who has been entrusted with secret information passes it on to someone else. The word tradition was borrowed directly from the Latin traditio. Treason, on the other hand, came to us through early French, where traditio had changed into the word traisun.

Legal Definition

treason

noun
trea·​son ˈtrēz-ᵊn How to pronounce treason (audio)
: 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
treasonous adjective
Etymology

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

More from Merriam-Webster on treason

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