[ahr-suh n]


Law. the malicious burning of another's house or property, or in some statutes, the burning of one's own house or property, as to collect insurance.

Origin of arson

1670–80; < Anglo-French, Old French < Late Latin ārsiōn- (stem of ārsiō) a burning, equivalent to ārs- (Latin ārd(ere) to burn (cf. ardent) + -t(us) past participle suffix) + -iōn- -ion
Related formsar·son·ous, adjective
Can be confusedarsenous arsonous Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for arson

Contemporary Examples of arson

Historical Examples of arson

  • Well, I may tell you that I have a warrant to arrest him on a charge of arson.

  • At Courbesseaux arson and pillage were also committed on the 5th of September.

  • You're not going ashore into this hades of riot and arson, are you?

  • Grave suspicions of arson are entertained, but up to the present no arrest has been made.

    The Freelands

    John Galsworthy

  • Arson was arson; a man in prison more or less was a man in prison more or less!

    The Freelands

    John Galsworthy

British Dictionary definitions for arson



criminal law the act of intentionally or recklessly setting fire to another's property or to one's own property for some improper reason
Derived Formsarsonist, noun

Word Origin for arson

C17: from Old French, from Medieval Latin ārsiō, from Latin ārdēre to burn; see ardent
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 arson

1670s, from Anglo-French arsoun (late 13c.), Old French arsion, from Late Latin arsionem (nominative arsio) "a burning," noun of action from past participle stem of Latin ardere "to burn," from PIE root *as- "to burn, glow" (see ash (n.1)). The Old English term was bærnet, literally "burning;" and Coke has indictment of burning (1640).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper