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[tres-puh s, -pas] /ˈtrɛs pəs, -pæs/
  1. an unlawful act causing injury to the person, property, or rights of another, committed with force or violence, actual or implied.
  2. a wrongful entry upon the lands of another.
  3. the action to recover damages for such an injury.
an encroachment or intrusion.
an offense, sin, or wrong.
verb (used without object)
Law. to commit a trespass.
to encroach on a person's privacy, time, etc.; infringe (usually followed by on or upon).
to commit a transgression or offense; transgress; offend; sin.
Origin of trespass
1250-1300; (noun) Middle English trespas transgression, offense < Old French, derivative of trespasser, equivalent to tres- (< Latin trāns- trans-) + passer to pass; (v.) Middle English trespassen, derivative of the noun
Related forms
trespasser, noun
nontrespass, noun
untrespassed, adjective
untrespassing, adjective
4, 5. T respass , encroach , infringe , intrude imply overstepping boundaries and assuming possession of others' property or crowding onto the right of others. To trespass is to pass unlawfully within the boundaries of another's property: Hunters trespass on a farmer's fields. To encroach is to creep, gradually and often stealthily, upon territory, rights, or privileges, so that a footing is imperceptibly established: The sea slowly encroached upon the land. To infringe is to break in upon or invade rights, customs, or the like, by violating or disregarding them: to infringe upon a patent. To intrude is to thrust oneself into the presence of a person or into places or circumstances where one is not welcome: to intrude into a private conversation. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for trespass
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "I'm sure we could arrange for past damages, and guarantee against any future trespass," said he.

    The Rules of the Game Stewart Edward White
  • But if that be so, the same doctrine must prevail in trespass.

    The Common Law Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  • "The trespass" must be "multiplied," the knowledge of sin deepened, before Grace can do its office.

  • All actions of trespass are for consequences of acts, not for the acts themselves.

    The Common Law Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  • The sole remedy open to Mr. Gibbings is civil process for trespass.

    Disturbed Ireland Bernard H. Becker
  • The foundation of liability in trespass as well as case was said to be negligence.

    The Common Law Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  • After the war, a lawyer, named Cowan, advised Hook to sue Venable for trespass.

  • He wondered who had the impudence to trespass on his cigar-chest; it could hardly be one of the children.

    Vice Versa F. Anstey
British Dictionary definitions for trespass


verb (intransitive)
often foll by on or upon. to go or intrude (on the property, privacy, or preserves of another) with no right or permission
(law) to commit trespass, esp to enter wrongfully upon land belonging to another
(archaic) (often foll by against) to sin or transgress
  1. any unlawful act committed with force or violence, actual or implied, which causes injury to another person, his property, or his rights
  2. a wrongful entry upon another's land
  3. an action to recover damages for such injury or wrongful entry
an intrusion on another's privacy or preserves
a sin or offence
Derived Forms
trespasser, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French trespas a passage, from trespasser to pass through, from tres-trans- + passer, ultimately from Latin passus a pace1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for trespass

c.1300, "transgress, offend, sin," from Old French trespasser "pass beyond or across," from tres- "beyond" (from Latin trans-) + passer "go by, pass" (see pass (v.)). Meaning "enter unlawfully" is first attested in forest laws of Scottish Parliament (c.1455). The noun is recorded from late 13c. The modern descendant of Old French trespasser, French trépasser has come to be used euphemistically for "to die" (cf. cross over, and obituary).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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