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[pley-juh-riz-uh m, -jee-uh-riz-] /ˈpleɪ dʒəˌrɪz əm, -dʒi əˌrɪz-/
an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author's work as one's own, as by not crediting the original author:
It is said that he plagiarized Thoreau's plagiarism of a line written by Montaigne.
a piece of writing or other work reflecting such unauthorized use or imitation:
“These two manuscripts are clearly plagiarisms,” the editor said, tossing them angrily on the floor.
Origin of plagiarism
First recorded in 1615-25; plagiar(y) + -ism
Related forms
plagiarist, noun
plagiaristic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for plagiarism
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She borrowed it now in her hour of need, and laughed, unconscious of her plagiarism.

    Audrey Craven May Sinclair
  • But it was when they charged him with plagiarism that his critics hit him on the raw.

    Recollections David Christie Murray
  • The two match-boxes were just alike, but neither was a plagiarism.

    Pages From an Old Volume of Life Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  • Randal Leslie might be mean in his plagiarism, but he turned the useless into use.

    My Novel, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • Besides all this, there is the painful question of plagiarism.

British Dictionary definitions for plagiarism


the act of plagiarizing
something plagiarized
Derived Forms
plagiarist, noun
plagiaristic, adjective
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 plagiarism

1620s, from -ism + plagiary (n.) "plagiarist, literary thief" (1590s), from Latin plagiarius "kidnapper, seducer, plunderer, one who kidnaps the child or slave of another," used by Martial in the sense of "literary thief," from plagiare "to kidnap," plagium "kidnapping," from plaga "snare, hunting net," perhaps from PIE *plag- (on notion of "something extended"), from root *plak- (1) "to be flat" (see placenta).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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plagiarism in Culture

plagiarism definition

Literary theft. Plagiarism occurs when a writer duplicates another writer's language or ideas and then calls the work his or her own. Copyright laws protect writers' words as their legal property. To avoid the charge of plagiarism, writers take care to credit those from whom they borrow and quote.

Note: Similar theft in music or other arts is also called plagiarism.
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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