AskDefine | Define forswear

Dictionary Definition

forswear v : formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief, usually under pressure; "He retracted his earlier statements about his religion"; "She abjured her beliefs" [syn: abjure, recant, retract, resile] [also: forsworn, forswore]

User Contributed Dictionary



Alternative spellings


  1. To renounce or deny something, especially under oath.
  2. To commit perjury.

Extensive Definition

Perjury (also called forswearing) is the act of lying or making verifiably false statements on a material matter under oath or affirmation in a court of law or in any of various sworn statements in writing. Perjury is a crime because the witness has sworn to tell the truth and, for the credibility of the court, witness testimony must be relied on as being truthful. Perjury is considered a serious offense as it can be used to usurp the power of the courts, resulting in miscarriages of justice. In the United States, for example, the general perjury statute under Federal law provides for a prison sentence of up to five years, and is found at . See also .
The rules for perjury also apply to witnesses who have affirmed they are telling the truth. Affirmation is used by a witness who is unable to swear to tell the truth. For example, in the United Kingdom a witness may swear on the Bible or other holy book. If a witness has no religious beliefs, or does not wish to swear on a holy book, the witness may make an affirmation he or she is telling the truth instead.
The rules for perjury also apply when a person has made a statement under penalty of perjury, even if the person has not been sworn or affirmed as a witness before an appropriate official. An example of this is the United States' income tax return, which, by law, must be signed as true and correct under penalty of perjury (see ). Federal tax law provides criminal penalties of up to three years in prison for violation of the tax return perjury statute. See .
Statements of interpretation of fact are not perjury because people often make inaccurate statements unwittingly and not deliberately. Individuals may have honest but mistaken beliefs about certain facts or their recollection may be inaccurate. Like most other crimes in the common law system, to be convicted of perjury one must have had the mens rea to commit the act, and to have actually committed the actus reus.
In some countries such as France and Germany, suspects cannot be heard under oath or affirmation and thus cannot commit perjury, regardless of what they say during their trial.

Famous people who have been convicted of perjury

Famous people accused of perjury

Famous people who have been accused of perjury include:


forswear in Danish: Mened
forswear in German: Meineid
forswear in Esperanto: Falsa ĵuro
forswear in French: Parjure
forswear in Irish: Mionnú Éithigh
forswear in Korean: 위증
forswear in Hebrew: עדות שקר
forswear in Dutch: Meineed
forswear in Japanese: 偽証の罪
forswear in Norwegian: Mened
forswear in Polish: Krzywoprzysięstwo
forswear in Simple English: Perjury
forswear in Swedish: Mened
forswear in Chinese: 偽證罪

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abandon, abdicate, abjure, acknowledge defeat, assert the contrary, back down, back out, backwater, belie, brush aside, cease, cede, chuck, chuck out, climb down, contemn, contest, contradict, contravene, controvert, counter, crawfish out, cross, cry quits, decline, deny, desist from, despise, disaffirm, disallow, disapprove, disavow, discard, disclaim, discontinue, discount, disdain, disgorge, dismiss, disown, dispense with, dispose of, disprove, dispute, disregard, do without, drop, dump, eat crow, eat humble pie, except, exclude, forgo, gainsay, get along without, get rid of, give away, give over, give up, hand over, have done with, ignore, impugn, join issue upon, kiss good-bye, lay down, leave off, make a sacrifice, not accept, not admit, nullify, oppose, palinode, part with, pass by, pass up, push aside, quitclaim, rebuff, recall, recant, refuse, refuse to admit, refuse to consider, refute, reject, relinquish, render up, renege, renounce, repel, repudiate, repulse, resign, retract, revoke, sacrifice, scout, shove away, spare, spurn, stop, surrender, swallow, swear off, take back, take issue with, take the pledge, throw away, throw out, throw up, turn away, turn out, unsay, vacate, waive, withdraw, yield
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