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[tree-zuh n] /ˈtri zən/
the offense of acting to overthrow one's government or to harm or kill its sovereign.
a violation of allegiance to one's sovereign or to one's state.
the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery.
Origin of treason
1175-1225; Middle English tre(i)so(u)n < Anglo-French; Old French traïson < Latin trāditiōn- (stem of trāditiō) a handing over, betrayal. See tradition
Related forms
supertreason, noun
Synonym Study
1. Treason, sedition mean disloyalty or treachery to one's country or its government. Treason is any attempt to overthrow the government or impair the well-being of a state to which one owes allegiance; the crime of giving aid or comfort to the enemies of one's government. Sedition is any act, writing, speech, etc., directed unlawfully against state authority, the government, or constitution, or calculated to bring it into contempt or to incite others to hostility, ill will or disaffection; it does not amount to treason and therefore is not a capital offense. 2. See disloyalty. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for treason
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This was done at last and treason staggered and fell mortally hurt.

    Charles Sumner Centenary Archibald H. Grimke
  • But Biorn said: "Now may we see the treason of those brethren against us."

  • The story—of treason and a bottle—which had imposed on his colleagues might not move her much.

    The Long Night Stanley Weyman
  • The Sewer puts the cover on it, and the cover must never be raised for fear of treason.

  • But Bourbon's treason had been discovered; instead of joining Suffolk with a large force, he was a fugitive from his country.

    Henry VIII. A. F. Pollard
British Dictionary definitions for treason


violation or betrayal of the allegiance that a person owes his sovereign or his country, esp by attempting to overthrow the government; high treason
any treachery or betrayal
Derived Forms
treasonable, treasonous, adjective
treasonableness, noun
treasonably, adverb
Word Origin
C13: from Old French traïson, from Latin trāditiō a handing over; see tradition, traditor
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 treason

early 13c., from Anglo-French treson, from Old French traison (11c.; Modern French trahison), from Latin traditionem (nominative traditio) "a handing over, delivery, surrender" (see tradition). Old French form influenced by the verb trair "betray." In old English law, high treason is violation by a subject of his allegiance to his sovereign or to the state; distinguished from petit treason, treason against a subject, such as murder of a master by his servant.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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