See more synonyms for felony on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural fel·o·nies. Law.
  1. an offense, as murder or burglary, of graver character than those called misdemeanors, especially those commonly punished in the U.S. by imprisonment for more than a year.
  2. Early English Law. any crime punishable by death or mutilation and forfeiture of lands and goods.

Origin of felony

1250–1300; Middle English felonie < Anglo-French, Old French: villainy, a felony. See felon1, -y3
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for felony

Contemporary Examples of felony

Historical Examples of felony

  • Ten of the men were apprehended for the felony, and eight of them were executed.


    Samuel Smiles

  • "You talk of forgery and penalties as if we were about to commit a felony," said Linton, laughing.

    Roland Cashel

    Charles James Lever

  • I should have to clear myself of felony, to strain every nerve and cheat the gallows.


    Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer

  • It was compounding a felony, but my client was satisfied and Roger was grateful.

    'Charge It'

    Irving Bacheller

  • "Please compound a felony," he said softly—and slipped it into his pocket.

    The Crooked House

    Brandon Fleming

British Dictionary definitions for felony


noun plural -nies
  1. (formerly) a serious crime, such as murder or arson. All distinctions between felony and misdemeanour were abolished in England and Wales in 1967
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 felony

late 13c. as a term in common law, in Anglo-French, from Old French felonie (12c.) "wickedness, evil, treachery, perfidy, crime, cruelty, sin," from Gallo-Romance *fellonia, from fellonem (see felon).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

felony in Culture



A grave crime, such as murder, rape, or burglary, that is punishable by death (see capital offense) or imprisonment in a state or federal facility.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.