Is plagiarism simply copying words? Or is it more complicated than that?
What’s the definition of plagiarism?
The dictionary defines plagiarism as “the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.”
Plagiarism, then, is not just lifting sentences from another writer’s work and claiming them as your own. If a writer duplicates the ideas of another, it too may fall under the definition of the dreaded “P Word.” Plagiarism can be avoided if writers dutifully credit their sources.
What is the origin of plagiarism?
The word comes from the Latin plagiarius, which means “kidnapper.”
The Roman poet Martial first used the word in the context of stealing another’s literary work. He claimed that another poet had “kidnapped his verses.”
Interestingly, up until the 18th century, plagiarism in Europe was not considered fraudulent behavior. In fact, copying the masters was encouraged, and originality was rarely considered praiseworthy.