Legal Definition and Related Resources of Treason

Meaning of Treason

The act of levying war against the United States or adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort . See United States federal constitution , article III, Section 3, Appendix I. A breach of allegiance to a government committed by one who owes allegiance to it. See United States v Wiltberger, 5 Wheat (U.S.) 76,5 L.Ed. 37.

Treason Alternative Definition

At Common Law. This word imports a betraying, treachery, or breach of allegiance. 4 Bl. Comm. 75. Treason was either:
(1) High treason, which was the compassing of the king’s death, the aiding and comforting of his enemies, the forging or counterfeiting of his coin, the counterfeiting of the privy seal, or the killing of the chancellor, or either of the king’s justices.
(2) Petit treason, which was where a wife murdered her husband, a servant his master, or an ecclesiastic his lord or ordinary. 4 Bl. Comm. 73. In the United States. The constitution of the United States (article 3, § 3) defines treason against the United States to consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort This offense is published with death. Act April 30, 1790 (1 Story, U. S. Laws, 83). By the same article of the constitution, no person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court. See, generally, 3 Story, Const. 39, p. 667; 1 Bl. Comm. Append. 275, 276; 3 Wilson, Law Lect. 96-99; Foster, Disc. (I); Fed. Cas. No. 14, 692; 4 Cranch (U. S.) 126; 469-508; 1 Dall. (U. S.) 35; 2 Dall. (U. S.) 246, 355; 3 Wash. C. C. (U. S.) 234; 1 Johns. (N. Y.) 553; 11 Johns. (N. Y.) 549; Comyn, Dig. “Justices” (K) ; 1 East, P. C. 37-158; 2 Chit. Crim. Law, 60-102; Archb. Crim. PI. 378-387.

Synonyms of Treason


  • betrayal
  • betrayal of a trust
  • breach of allegiance
  • breach of faith
  • disloyalty
  • infidelity
  • insurgence
  • insurrection
  • maiestas
  • mutiny
  • perfidia
  • perfidy
  • rebellion
  • rebellion against the government
  • revolt
  • revolution
  • sedition
  • subversion
  • treachery
  • violation of allegiance foreign phrases: Felonia implicatur in qualibet proditione
  • Felony is implied in every treason
  • Reus laesae majestatispunitur utpereat unus nepereant omnes
  • A traitor is punished that one may die lest all perish
  • Crimen laesae majestatis omnia alia crimina excedit quoad poenam
  • The crime of high treason exceeds all other crimes in its punishment
  • In altaproditione nulluspotest esse accessorius sed principalis solummodo
  • In high treason each one is a principal
  • Qui molitur insidias in patriam id facit quod insanus nauta perforons navem in qua vehitur
  • He who betrays his country is like the insane sailor who bores a hole in the ship which carries him

Related Entries of Treason in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Treason in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Treason in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Treason in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Treason in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary.

Related Legal Terms

You might be also interested in these legal terms:

Mentioned in these terms

Attainder, Benefit Of Clergy, Civil Death, Corruption Of Blood, Forfeiture, Infamous, , Prodition, Standing Mute.


You might be interested in these references tools:

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Treason in the Dictionary Treason in our legal dictionaries
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Related topics Treason in the World Encyclopedia of Law


This definition of Treason is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

Vocabularies (Semantic Web Information)


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Treason in Law Enforcement

Main Entry: Law Enforcement in the Legal Dictionary. This section provides, in the context of Law Enforcement, a partial definition of treason.


This term is a noun.

Etimology of Treason

(You may find treason at the world legal encyclopedia and the etimology of more terms).

c. 1200, “betraying; betrayal of trust; breach of faith,”
from Anglo-French treson, from Old French traison “treason, treachery” (11c.; Modern French trahison), from Latin traditionem (nominative traditio) “a handing over, delivery, surrender” (see tradition, which is its doublet). The Old French form was influenced by the verb trair “betray.” Vpon Thursday it was treason to cry God saue king James king of England, and vppon Friday hye treason not to cry so. [Thomas Dekker, “The Wonderfull Yeare 1603”] In old English law, high treason is violation by a subject of his allegiance to his sovereign or to the state; distinguished from petit treason, treason against a subject, such as murder of a master by his servant. Constructive treason was a judicial fiction whereby actions carried out without treasonable intent, but found to have the effect of treason, were punished as though they were treason itself. The protection against this accounts for the careful wording of the definition of treason in the U.S. Constitution.


See Also

  • Law Enforcement Officer
  • Police
  • Law Enforcement Agency

Further Reading




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