Word of the Day


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to do something that is harmful, illegal, or dishonest

Origin and usage

The verb perpetrate comes from the Latin prefix ‘per-‘ meaning ‘to completion’ and the root word ‘patrare’ which means ‘to bring about’. In English, the word was first used sometime in the 16th century in the context of criminal law.


Perpetrate is a word that is commonly used in reference to the act of committing a crime. It typically has a negative meaning and is frequently used in legal and law enforcement circles. For example, ‘perpetrator’ is a noun that refers to a person who does something illegal.

A new study has revealed some surprising evidence that people who perpetrate a certain kind of crime may benefit from targeted rehabilitation programmes. Crimes of domestic abuse can be particularly devastating, yet according to research those who perpetrate these types of offences could be aided by programmes that help abusers recognize and learn ways to change their behaviour.

Traditionally, support services are put in place to help victims escape those in their lives who perpetrate abuse. While researchers maintain that these services are crucial in helping to break the cycle of abuse, there is evidence to show that interventions aimed at rehabilitating perpetrators could be an effective supplement to existing supports.

Sometimes, those who perpetrate crimes of domestic violence are required by a court to complete a rehabilitation programme, but there are also a number of perpetrators who seek out support services on their own, or are referred by social service workers. In these cases, perpetrators are often able to make significant improvements in their behaviour and reduce instances of abuse.


“If we know how much passive violence we perpetrate against one another, we will understand why there is so much physical violence plaguing societies and the world.”

Similar words

commit, transgress, resort to
View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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