per·​pe·​tu·​i·​ty | / ˌpər-pə-ˈtü-ə-tē How , -ˈtyü- /

Definition of perpetuity

2 : the quality or state of being perpetual bequeathed to them in perpetuity

3a : the condition of an estate limited so that it will not take effect or vest within the period fixed by law

b : an estate so limited

4 : an annuity payable forever

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Continual existence—that elusive concept has made perpetuity a favorite term of philosophers and poets for centuries. The word derives ultimately from the Latin adjective perpetuus (continual or uninterrupted), which is also the source of our perpetual and perpetuate. It frequently occurs in the phrase in perpetuity, which essentially means forever or for an indefinitely long period of time. Perpetuity also has some specific uses in law. It can refer to an arrangement in a will rendering land forever inalienable (or at least, for a period longer than is set by rules against such arrangements) or to an annuity that is payable forever.

Examples of perpetuity in a Sentence

lands that should remain in their wild state in perpetuity

Recent Examples on the Web Forgoing regular socializing, routine medical checkups, and in-person schooling might be worthwhile in the short term, but abstaining from all of those things in perpetuity comes with its own dangers. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, 18 Aug. 2021 Retinol is one of the best things for overnight skin repair—especially when used regularly and in perpetuity. Adam Hurly, Robb Report, 15 Aug. 2021 Biden’s aides say that the persistence of those problems reinforced his belief that the United States could not prop up the Afghan government and military in perpetuity., 14 Aug. 2021 The Qing ceded Hong Kong Island in perpetuity to the British in 1842 following the first Opium War and would later do the same with the adjacent Kowloon Peninsula. New York Times, 6 Aug. 2021 At a press event to announce the gift, a giddy Mayor David Anderson declared that Kalamazoo now has secured philanthropy support in perpetuity. Star Tribune, 30 July 2021 Directed by the documentary veteran Joshua Rofé, the movie reportedly both delves into Ross’s life and chronicles legal actions taken by Annette and Walt Kowalski that aimed to control the Bob Ross brand in perpetuity. Washington Post, 30 July 2021 Collins, who died in March 2016, would be thrilled to know that the Collins name will be remembered in perpetuity at Sportsmen’s., 26 June 2021 But like any coping mechanism, denial is best used in moderation, not perpetuity. Robert Pearl, Forbes, 14 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word perpetuity. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of perpetuity

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for perpetuity

Middle English perpetuite, from Anglo-French perpetuité, from Latin perpetuitat-, perpetuitas, from perpetuus

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Cite this Entry

“Perpetuity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for perpetuity

per·​pe·​tu·​i·​ty | / ˌpər-pə-ˈtü-ə-tē, -ˈtyü- How /

Legal Definition of perpetuity

1 : the quality, state, or duration of being perpetual devised to them in perpetuity

2a : the condition of a future estate limited in such a way as not to vest within the period fixed by law for the vesting of an estate also : a limitation that gives rise to such a situation

3 : an annuity payable forever

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