Definition of felony in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈfɛləni/

noun (plural felonies)

A crime regarded in the US and many other judicial systems as more serious than a misdemeanour: he pleaded guilty to six felonies [mass noun]: an accusation of felony
More example sentences
  • The principal felonies were homicide, rape, theft, burglary, robbery and arson.
  • California requires DNA sampling only from those convicted for violent felonies and some sex crimes.
  • And the schedule is there, so your Honours can see how the felonies and misdemeanours were changed.

In the US the distinction between felonies and misdemeanours usually depends on the penalties or consequences attaching to the crime. In English law felony originally comprised those offences (murder, wounding, arson, rape, and robbery) for which the penalty included forfeiture of land and goods. Forfeiture was abolished in 1870, and in 1967 felonies and misdemeanours were replaced by indictable and non-indictable offences.


Middle English: from Old French felonie, from felon (see felon1).

Words that rhyme with felony

Melanie, miscellany

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: fel¦ony

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.