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[tres-puh s, -pas] /ˈtrɛs pəs, -pæs/
  1. an unlawful act causing injury to the person, property, or rights of another, committed with force or violence, actual or implied.
  2. a wrongful entry upon the lands of another.
  3. the action to recover damages for such an injury.
an encroachment or intrusion.
an offense, sin, or wrong.
verb (used without object)
Law. to commit a trespass.
to encroach on a person's privacy, time, etc.; infringe (usually followed by on or upon).
to commit a transgression or offense; transgress; offend; sin.
Origin of trespass
1250-1300; (noun) Middle English trespas transgression, offense < Old French, derivative of trespasser, equivalent to tres- (< Latin trāns- trans-) + passer to pass; (v.) Middle English trespassen, derivative of the noun
Related forms
trespasser, noun
nontrespass, noun
untrespassed, adjective
untrespassing, adjective
4, 5. T respass , encroach , infringe , intrude imply overstepping boundaries and assuming possession of others' property or crowding onto the right of others. To trespass is to pass unlawfully within the boundaries of another's property: Hunters trespass on a farmer's fields. To encroach is to creep, gradually and often stealthily, upon territory, rights, or privileges, so that a footing is imperceptibly established: The sea slowly encroached upon the land. To infringe is to break in upon or invade rights, customs, or the like, by violating or disregarding them: to infringe upon a patent. To intrude is to thrust oneself into the presence of a person or into places or circumstances where one is not welcome: to intrude into a private conversation. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for trespasser
Historical Examples
  • He must first catch the trespasser and this would be a pretty hard job.

    Flying Machines W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell
  • Here it was even worse than in the garden; there Boxtel was only a trespasser, here he was a thief.

    The Black Tulip Alexandre Dumas (Pere)
  • I was as much a trespasser now as he was, and I could see at a glance that he knew it.

  • He had greeted Pen somewhat coldly—as if Pen were a trespasser on his side of the street.

    In a Little Town Rupert Hughes
  • He felt himself a trespasser both on Ivan's time and on his charity.

    The Genius

    Margaret Horton Potter
  • He was yesterday arrested and tried as a trespasser, and condemned to imprisonment.

    The Magic City Edith Nesbit
  • He was a trespasser at the beginning, he is nothing but a trespasser still.

    The Common Law Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  • I was a trespasser on the domain belonging to another generation.

    Over the Teacups Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  • In three seconds he was on Ferris territory—and a trespasser.

    Patsy S. R. Crockett
  • As for the fate of the trespasser, do not seek to know that.

    Mark Twain's Speeches Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
British Dictionary definitions for trespasser


verb (intransitive)
often foll by on or upon. to go or intrude (on the property, privacy, or preserves of another) with no right or permission
(law) to commit trespass, esp to enter wrongfully upon land belonging to another
(archaic) (often foll by against) to sin or transgress
  1. any unlawful act committed with force or violence, actual or implied, which causes injury to another person, his property, or his rights
  2. a wrongful entry upon another's land
  3. an action to recover damages for such injury or wrongful entry
an intrusion on another's privacy or preserves
a sin or offence
Derived Forms
trespasser, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French trespas a passage, from trespasser to pass through, from tres-trans- + passer, ultimately from Latin passus a pace1
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 trespasser



c.1300, "transgress, offend, sin," from Old French trespasser "pass beyond or across," from tres- "beyond" (from Latin trans-) + passer "go by, pass" (see pass (v.)). Meaning "enter unlawfully" is first attested in forest laws of Scottish Parliament (c.1455). The noun is recorded from late 13c. The modern descendant of Old French trespasser, French trépasser has come to be used euphemistically for "to die" (cf. cross over, and obituary).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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