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[fel-uh-nee] /ˈfɛl ə ni/
noun, plural felonies. Law.
an offense, as murder or burglary, of graver character than those called misdemeanors, especially those commonly punished in the U.S. by imprisonment for more than a year.
Early English Law. any crime punishable by death or mutilation and forfeiture of lands and goods.
Origin of felony
1250-1300; Middle English felonie < Anglo-French, Old French: villainy, a felony. See felon1, -y3 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for felony
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Ten of the men were apprehended for the felony, and eight of them were executed.

    Self-Help Samuel Smiles
  • "You talk of forgery and penalties as if we were about to commit a felony," said Linton, laughing.

    Roland Cashel Charles James Lever
  • I should have to clear myself of felony, to strain every nerve and cheat the gallows.

    Romance Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer
  • It was compounding a felony, but my client was satisfied and Roger was grateful.

    'Charge It' Irving Bacheller
  • "Please compound a felony," he said softly—and slipped it into his pocket.

    The Crooked House

    Brandon Fleming
British Dictionary definitions for felony


noun (pl) -nies
(formerly) a serious crime, such as murder or arson. All distinctions between felony and misdemeanour were abolished in England and Wales in 1967
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for felony

late 13c. as a term in common law, in Anglo-French, from Old French felonie (12c.) "wickedness, evil, treachery, perfidy, crime, cruelty, sin," from Gallo-Romance *fellonia, from fellonem (see felon).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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felony in Culture
felony [(fel-uh-nee)]

A grave crime, such as murder, rape, or burglary, that is punishable by death (see capital offense) or imprisonment in a state or federal facility.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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