[pley-juh-riz-uh m, -jee-uh-riz-]
See more synonyms for plagiarism on
  1. 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.
  2. 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 formspla·gia·rist, nounpla·gia·ris·tic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for plagiarist

marauder, stealer, privateer, plagiarizer, cribber

Examples from the Web for plagiarist

Contemporary Examples of plagiarist

Historical Examples of plagiarist

  • Yet, neither the one nor the other, as far as we know, was a plagiarist.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

  • They are on a level with 'Punch's' proofs that Alexander Smith was a plagiarist.

  • The strawberry is no more a plagiarist than the smilax, nor the grape than the nettle.

    The Foot-path Way

    Bradford Torrey

  • To this I reply that I borrow facts from every accessible source, and am not a plagiarist.

    A Simpleton

    Charles Reade

  • He who borrows only from heterogeneous works is not a plagiarist.

    A Simpleton

    Charles Reade

British Dictionary definitions for plagiarist


  1. the act of plagiarizing
  2. something plagiarized
Derived Formsplagiarist, nounplagiaristic, 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

Word Origin and History for plagiarist

1670s, from plagiary "plagiarist" (see plagiarism) + -ist. Related: Plagiaristic.



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

plagiarist in Culture


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.


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