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verb (used with object), per·pe·trat·ed, per·pe·trat·ing.
  1. to commit: to perpetrate a crime.
  2. to present, execute, or do in a poor or tasteless manner: Who perpetrated this so-called comedy?

Origin of perpetrate

1540–50; < Latin perpetrātus (past participle of perpetrāre to carry out, execute, perform), equivalent to per- per- + -petr- (combining form of patrāre to father, bring about; see pater) + -ā- theme vowel + -tus past participle suffix; see -ate1
Related formsper·pe·tra·ble [pur-pi-truh-buh l] /ˈpɜr pɪ trə bəl/, adjectiveper·pe·tra·tion, nounper·pe·tra·tor, nounnon·per·pe·tra·tion, nounun·per·pe·trat·ed, adjective
Can be confusedperpetrate perpetuate
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for perpetrate

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He must be rid of the fellow in some way—no eye must see him perpetrate the deed he had in mind.

    The Monster Men

    Edgar Rice Burroughs

  • "What a lot of folly they have allowed me to perpetrate," he muttered as he ran along.

  • Let me perpetrate one more,—one which is perhaps the most glaring of all.

  • It is at this point that we perpetrate one of our commonest blunders.

    A Handful of Stars

    Frank W. Boreham

  • Secondly, that you undertake to perpetrate no act of piracy while I am on board.

    The Pirate Slaver

    Harry Collingwood

British Dictionary definitions for perpetrate


  1. (tr) to perform or be responsible for (a deception, crime, etc)
Derived Formsperpetration, nounperpetrator, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Latin perpetrāre, from per- (thoroughly) + patrāre to perform, perhaps from pater father, leader in the performance of sacred rites


Perpetrate and perpetuate are sometimes confused: he must answer for the crimes he has perpetrated (not perpetuated); the book helped to perpetuate (not perpetrate) some of the myths surrounding his early life
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

Word Origin and History for perpetrate


1540s, from Latin perpetratus, past participle of perpetrare "to perform, to accomplish," from per- "completely" + patrare "carry out," originally "bring into existence," from pater "father" (see father (n.)). Earlier in English was perpetren, mid-15c., from Old French perpetrer. Neither good nor bad in Latin, first used in English in statutes, hence its sense of "to perform criminally." Related: Perpetrated; perpetrating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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