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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for felony
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Some are here for gambling in the gutter, many for playing truant, some for sleeping out, and others for felony.

  • You cannot make economy a crime, progress a misdemeanour, or efficiency a felony!

    The Root of Evil Thomas Dixon
  • What you are asking of me, my dear friend, is no more nor less than a felony.

    Adrienne Toner Anne Douglas Sedgwick
  • Accordingly, their use was not confined to disposing of a charge of felony.

    The Common Law Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  • That is, blacks and such whites as were not disfranchised for participation in the rebellion or for felony.

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 American Heritage® 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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