intentional act of swearing a false oath or of falsifying an affirmation to tell the truth
Perjury, also known as forswearing, is the intentional act of swearing a false oath or of falsifying an affirmation to tell the truth, whether in speech or in writing, concerning matters material to an official proceeding.
- Qui semel a veritate deflexit, hic non majore religione ad perjurium quam ad mendacium perduci consuevit.
- He who has once deviated from the truth, usually commits perjury with as little scruple as he would tell a lie.
- Cicero, Oratio Pro Quinto Roscio Comœdo, XX.
- It is not uncommon for ignorant and corrupt men to falsely charge others with doing what they imagine that they themselves, in their narrow minds and experience, would have done under the circumstances of a given case, and the surest check, often the only check, on such perjury, is to recognize the impossibility that men of larger instruction and resources and experience could have been guilty of such conduct.
- John Hessin Clarke, Valdez v. United States, 244 U.S. 432, 450 (1917) (dissenting).
- And hast thou sworn on every slight, pretence,
Till perjuries are common as bad pence,
While thousands, careless of the damning sin,
Kiss the book's outside, who ne'er look'd within?
- William Cowper, Expostulation, line 384; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 563.
- It is not possible to found a lasting power upon injustice, perjury, and treachery.
- Demosthenes, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 455.
- I think it is a canon, which any one who is familiar with Courts of justice will recognise as a just one, that instead of assuming that people are perjuring themselves, you should, if there is a view by which you can reconcile all the testimony, prefer that to the view which places people in the position of contradicting each other, so that they must necessarily be swearing what is false. . . . The point as to having seen the witnesses and having had an opportunity of judging whether they were speaking the truth or not is generally a very powerful one.
- Earl of Ealsbury, L.C., Owners of Steamship "Gannet" v. Owners of Steamship "Algoa" (1900), L. R. App. Cas. , p. 238; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 194.
- We can judge only from appearances, and from the evidence produced to us.
- Legge, B., Trial of Mary Blandy (1752), 18 How. St. Tr. 1188; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 194.
- [W]e better know there is fire whence we see much smoke rising than we could know it by one or two witnesses swearing to it. The witnesses may commit perjury, but the smoke cannot.
- Abraham Lincoln, unfinished draft of a letter to J.R. Underwood and Henry Grinder (October 26, 1864), in Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln - Volume 10 (1894), p. 254.
- My suit has nothing to do with the assault, or battery, or poisoning, but is about three goats, which, I complain, have been stolen by my neighbor. This the judge desires to have proved to him; but you, with swelling words and extravagant gestures, dilate on the Battle of Cannæ, the Mithridatic war, and the perjuries of the insensate Carthaginians, the Syllæ, the Marii, and the Mucii. It is time, Postumus, to say something about my three goats.
- Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), Book VI, Epigram 19; in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 411-12.
- Iuppiter ex alto periuria ridet amantum.
- An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven:
Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?
No, not for Venice.
- Nec iurare time: veneris periuria venti
inrita per terras et freta summa ferunt.
gratia magna Iovi: vetuit Pater ipse valere,
iurasset cupide quidquid ineptus amor.
- Be not afraid to swear. Null and void are the perjuries of love; the winds bear them ineffective over land and the face of the sea. Great thanks to Jove! The Sire himself has decreed no oath should stand that love has taken in the folly of desire.
- Tibullus, Elegies, translation by J. P. Postgate in the Loeb Classical Library (London: William Heinemann,  1962), Bk. 1, no. 4, line 21.