View synonyms for sedition


[ si-dish-uhn ]


  1. incitement of discontent or rebellion against a government.

    Synonyms: mutiny, insurrection

  2. any action, especially in speech or writing, promoting such discontent or rebellion.
  3. Archaic. rebellious disorder.


/ sɪˈdɪʃən /


  1. speech or behaviour directed against the peace of a state
  2. an offence that tends to undermine the authority of a state
  3. an incitement to public disorder
  4. archaic.


  1. Acts that incite rebellion or civil disorder against an established government.

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Derived Forms

  • seˈditionary, nounadjective

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Other Words From

  • anti·se·dition adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of sedition1

First recorded in 1325–75; from Latin sēditiōn-, stem of sēditiō “rebellion, strife,” literally “a going apart,” from sēd- se- + itiō “a going” (from it(us) “gone,” past participle of īre “to go” + -iō -ion ); replacing Middle English sedicioun, from Anglo-French, from Latin, as above

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Word History and Origins

Origin of sedition1

C14: from Latin sēditiō discord, from sēd- apart + itiō a going, from īre to go

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Compare Meanings

How does sedition compare to similar and commonly confused words? Explore the most common comparisons:

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Synonym Study

See treason.

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Example Sentences

In the House, they voted for leaders who participated in sedition.

Other commentators have dubbed it a coup, or appended the legal label of sedition.

From Quartz

Ye, accused of sedition, is sent to work for an obscure government agency called the Red Coast Base and discovers a new method for transmitting interstellar messages.

From Fortune

While the local sedition law passed in 1918, San Diego didn’t warm to all wartime restrictions that year.

Somebody called the cops, and the 24-year-old was arrested on charges of sedition and thrown in jail.

So does his comment about treason, which plugs into the mentality of those accusing the President of sedition and disloyalty.

I refer to the Alien and Sedition Acts, signed into law by President John Adams in 1798.

Nor do members of Congress with close NRA ties who scare the populace and encourage sedition face any consequences.

Kamhawi is facing sedition charges from the nervous regime for, as he puts it, “saying what I am saying to you.”

Waited to hear what she would make, even at this early hearing, of the charge he faced: sedition.

There was little reason to hope that this, the third city in India, should not yield readily to sedition-mongers.

John Smith was later charged with sedition, acquitted, and finally restored to his rightful council position.

No one knows better than I that it is, at the present moment, honeycombed with sedition and anarchical impulses.

He ascribed the measures taken to repress sedition and defeat the French propaganda as attempts at tyranny.

The sedition cases were mostly heard before the lord-justice clerk Braxfield, who behaved with scandalous harshness and severity.


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More About Sedition

What does sedition mean?

Sedition is the act of encouraging rebellion against the government, or an action that promotes such rebellion, such as through speech or writing.

What’s the difference between treason and sedition? Treason typically refers to a direct action to overthrow or betray one’s government, whereas sedition usually falls short of direct action and instead involves the promotion of revolutionary or treasonous actions. Legally, sedition is typically considered a less serious offense than treason.

Example: His statements amount to nothing less than sedition—he’s actively trying to incite a rebellion against the government.

Why is sedition trending?

On January 6, 2021, the word sedition surged in use—and lookups for the word soared 5492% on—after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building on the day Congress was set to certify the electoral vote count to confirm Joe Biden’s presidential election victory. Journalists, political analysts and observers, and even President-elect Joe Biden himself used the word sedition to characterize the unbelievable events that happened in the nation’s capital.


The shocking events were described with other strong words such as insurrection, coup (d’état), and (domestic) terrorism. Insurrection involves an actual instance of resisting or rebelling against the government, while sedition is incitement or promotion of such actions. A coup, in this context short for coup d’état, is an illegal or forceful change of government rather than the incitement of a rebellion—hence expressions like an attempted coup or failed coup. Finally, terrorism, more broadly, involves using actual violence or threats especially against civilians for political purposes; domestic terrorism specifically refers to when citizens engage in terrorist acts against their fellow citizens.

Some even likened the events to those you would see in a banana republic, a term (with a problematic history) for an authoritarian country that prioritizes wealthy elites or foreign corporations by exploiting its citizens.

On September 17, 2020, searches for sedition also notably increased 3,851% compared to the previous week after U.S. Attorney General William Barr was reported to have controversially encouraged federal prosecutors to pursue charges of sedition against demonstrators accused of causing violence in ongoing nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd in May 2020.

Also driving up searches for sedition was Michael Caputo, a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services, who caused his own controversy after accusing career scientists at the Centers for Disease Control of sedition in a Facebook Live video on Sunday, September 13, 2020.

Where does sedition come from?

The first records of sedition in English come from the late 1300s. It ultimately comes from the Latin sēditiō, meaning “discord,” from sēd-, meaning “apart,” and itiō, meaning “a going.”

The goal of sedition is typically to promote discord between the government and the people in order to start a rebellion that overthrows the government. Obviously, governments don’t like the idea of sedition and sometimes pass laws against it. In the history of the United States, there have been two notable sedition acts passed, and both were repealed. The first came in 1798 as part of the Alien and Sedition Acts, which restricted the political activities of people who sympathized with French revolutionaries, most notably criticism of Congress or the president. The acts were either repealed or allowed to expire in the early 1800s. The Sedition Act of 1918 targeted those who opposed the nation’s entry into World War I. It made it illegal to do things like insult the government or military or protest against the war effort. It was repealed in 1921. Sedition laws such as these are often considered to be in conflict with protections of free speech.

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How is sedition used in real life?

The word sedition is typically used in political and legal contexts.

Try using sedition

True or False? 

Sedition is the same as treason.