Treason Meaning: Here’s What it Means and How to Use it?

Wondering what the meaning of treason is? We can help. Read on as we explore the term treason to uncover its definition, origin, synonyms, and more.

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Between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the word treason has been thrown around quite a bit lately — but do you know what treason means? 

In this post, we’re exploring the word treason to uncover its definition, origin, synonyms, antonyms, and more. 

What Is the Definition of Treason?

Chances are, over the past few years, you have seen the word treason used a few times. 

If we look at a trusted dictionaries like Lexico and Cambridge Dictionaries, treason is defined as the crime of showing a lack of loyalty to your country or government by helping its enemies to tear it down.

Treason vs. Disloyalty

When you have a former U.S. President Donald Trump tweeting “TREASON?” in response to another politician and others using treason in such a casual manner, it almost makes you forget that treason is a federal crime punishable by death. 

Treason here seemingly gets confused with disloyalty, which may have some similarities but is quite different in nature.

Depicting your boss in an unflattering way or meeting with an “adversary,” while disloyal, is not an act of treason. 

Simply put, treason must involve either giving aid to an enemy or taking up arms against the United States. 

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Treason?

There are many words that we can use in place of treason. These words are called synonyms, which are phrases or words that have the same or similar definition as another word. 

Not only do synonyms help to avoid repeating ourselves in conversation, but they are also a great way to expand your knowledge of the English Language.

Below are synonyms of treason:

  • Perfidy
  • Infidelity
  • Treachery
  • Unfaithfulness
  • Sabotage
  • Disruption
  • Espionage
  • Insurrection
  • Interference
  • Interruption
  • Undermining
  • Intrusion
  • Machination
  • Traitor
  • Impedance
  • Lese majesty
  • Rabble rousing
  • Fomentation of discontent
  • Incitement to riot
  • Incitement to rebellion
  • Backsliding
  • Faithlessness
  • Changing allegiances

When a word has the opposite meaning of the original word, that word is called an antonym. As was the case with synonyms, learning antonyms is a great way to memorize the definition of a word.

Below are antonyms of treason:

  • Staunchness
  • Steadfastness
  • Frankness
  • Straightforwardness
  • Ingenuousness
  • Good faith
  • Dedication
  • Devtedness
  • Troth
  • Patriotism
  • Good deed
  • Munificence
  • Sustenance
  • Trueness
  • Love of your country
  • Patriotic statement
  • Charity
  • Allegiance to one’s country
  • Quiet
  • Sincerity
  • Guilelessnes
  • Secret
  • Protection

What Is the Origin of the Word Treason?

When we look at a word’s origin (or etymology), we get to see how the word has evolved over time. Etymology is a word’s backstory, including how the word meaning has changed over time, its earliest beginnings, and all the places it has stopped in between.

The word treason can be traced all the way back to c.1200, stemming from Middle English tresoun, from Anglo-French traisun meaning “treachery,” from the Old French traïson and Latin traditionem (nominative of Latin trāditiō) meaning delivery, give up, or hand over.

We also can trace the word treason to old English law, in the form of high “treason” from c.1400 (the “high” here means grave or serious). High treason here was a violation of any person’s allegiance to their sovereign or the state itself.

U.S. Constitution and the Treason Clause

The United States Constitution — or rather the careful wording of the definition of treason in the U.S. Constitution — can also be traced back to old English law and “constructive treason.” 

This old English judicial fiction stated that if actions were carried out without treasonable intent but found to have the effect of treason, that person would be punished as though the offense was treason.

With this in mind, the Treason Clause was carefully worded to limit the charges to the most serious of crimes. In a broader sense, it was added due to the application of treason charges in Great Britain and old English law.

Arguably, the most notable trial involving the Treason Clause was the trial of former Vice President Aaron Burr. When he was acquitted of treason charges in 1807, it was the first real “test” of the Treason Clause and at the time was the “Trial of the Century.”

How Can Treason Be Used in a Sentence?

Now that you understand the history and meaning behind treason let’s review how to properly use muse in a sentence. Try using the word muse in a sentence today! 

Below you will find a few examples to help get you started:

Are you aware that the Treason Clause in the U.S. Constitution holds a reference to English common law and the “corruption of blood?” 

It is still treason to bear arms for our enemies even when those enemies have fired those arms.

During war times, you could easily find yourself on the wrong end of a treason charge if you are not careful.


In conclusion, the word treason can be defined as the action of betraying someone or something. 

So, if you decided to hack your little brother’s email account to share all of his dirty secrets with your mother, your brother could look at this as an act of personal betrayal — aka, treason!


  1. treason | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute
  2. TREASON English Definition and Meaning |
  3. Aaron Burr’s trial and the Constitution’s treason clause | Constitition Center
  4. TREASON | definition in | Cambridge English Dictionary