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From Middle English tresoun, treison, from Anglo-Norman treson, from Old French traïson (treason), from Latin trāditiōnem, accusative of trāditiō (a giving up, handing over, surrender, delivery, tradition), from trādō (give up, hand over, deliver over, betray, verb), from trāns- (over, across) +‎ (give).



treason (countable and uncountable, plural treasons)

  1. The crime of betraying one’s own country.
    • 1613, John Harington, “Book iv, Epigram 5”, in Alcilia:
      Treason doth never prosper. What's the reason? Why, if it doth, then none dare call it treason.
    • 1952, James Avery Joyce: Justice At Work: (this edition Pan 1957) Page 105.
      Formerly, the punishment for high treason was of a most barbarous character…. Women were burnt. A male traitor was dragged or drawn to the place of execution and hanged; but while still alive, he was cut down and disembowelled. His head was then severed from his body which was quartered. The head and quarters, which were at the Kings disposal, were usually exposed in some conspicuous place—the Temple Bar being a favourite spot—after being boiled in salt to prevent putrification and in cumin seed to prevent birds feasting on them.
  2. Providing aid and comfort to the enemy.
  3. An act of treachery, betrayal of trust or confidence


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