Definition of trespass in English:



  • 1Enter the owner's land or property without permission.

    ‘there is no excuse for trespassing on railroad property’
    • ‘The prosecutor may be able, by careful questioning, to avoid trespassing into the forbidden territory.’
    • ‘The landlord commenced proceedings for possession on the ground that the lease had ended and the tenant was trespassing.’
    • ‘More than 30 protesters have already been arrested for trespassing onto the site.’
    • ‘The falconer says he has been warned he could be arrested for trespassing if he tries to get her.’
    • ‘Police arrested the four on charges ranging from assault to trespassing.’
    • ‘I felt like an intruder discovered by the owner of the house I was trespassing.’
    • ‘We're told staff from the daycare center made a citizen's arrest for trespassing.’
    • ‘That same year, another woman was arrested for trespassing at that same home.’
    • ‘If you aren't off my property in three minutes I'll have you arrested for trespassing!’
    • ‘The assailant was charged with trespassing, destruction of property and cruelty to animals.’
    • ‘At a children's home in Silver Street, he was said to have made threats to staff, caused damage, trespassed, verbally abused a social worker, refused to leave the premises and tried to steal a wallet from a member of staff.’
    • ‘It is only an illegal activity if they are trespassing or poaching.’
    • ‘The police had caused criminal damage and were trespassing.’
    • ‘The case itself does not stand for some principle that you must get exemplary damages where land is trespassed upon.’
    • ‘The same youth was one of a group who were arrested trespassing at Malmesbury Abbey churchyard last month.’
    • ‘Some people took direct action and stood in front of the bulldozers but they were arrested and fined for trespassing.’
    • ‘He has been arrested for trespassing while filming his routines in abandoned buildings.’
    • ‘There is no evidence that the police trespassed to do this and it appears that, at least from the video, that the pictures and video were taken from the publicly accessible roadway adjacent to the residence in question.’
    • ‘Because this is a fairly low-key establishment, entering it almost feels like trespassing.’
    • ‘Their workmen had trespassed onto the Gregorys' property, uprooted shrubs, removed rockery stones and trampled down plants.’
    enter without permission, intrude on, encroach on, invade, infringe, impinge on
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Make unfair claims on or take advantage of (something)
      ‘she really must not trespass on his hospitality’
      • ‘When someone offends us we feel that they are trespassing on our rights.’
      • ‘I felt he didn't actually know much about radical political movements of the time - trespassing on Conrad really.’
      • ‘We were trespassing on the communion of their lunch, the remembrance of a thousand small-town diners, trailer-park kitchens and back-yard barbecues.’
      take advantage of, impose on, make use of, play on, exploit, abuse, make unfair claims on
      View synonyms
  • 2literary, archaic Commit an offense against (a person or a set of rules)

    ‘a man who had trespassed against Judaic law’
    • ‘But as the Lord taught us, we should ask forgiveness for our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.’
    • ‘We know in this, within a democracy, how to get tough and put in rigorous regimens of discipline, security without trespassing against the fundamental rights of human beings in a civilized society.’
    • ‘Leaving aside the question of God's forgiveness, I think a basic way to forgive those who trespass against us is to return good for evil - to actually go out of our way to be charitable to those who have harmed us in some way.’
    • ‘The player who trespasses against the rules or ignores them is a ‘spoil-sport.’’
    • ‘Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord.’
    wrong, do wrong to, cause harm to
    View synonyms


  • 1Law
    Entry to a person's land or property without their permission.

    ‘the defendants were guilty of trespass’
    ‘a mass trespass on the hills’
    • ‘The requirement of trespass places a civil law concept at the centre of the offence.’
    • ‘Picketing which breaches the criminal law or one of the specific torts such as trespass, nuisance, intimidation, defamation or representation will be impermissible.’
    • ‘Thus in the field of tort, the traditional view is that claims in respect of torts to land, such as trespass and nuisance, can be brought only by an occupier with a property interest in the land (such as a lease), and not by a mere licensee.’
    • ‘Obviously, the Council enjoying the easement could be guilty of trespass, not least because they may - very readily in this case, it can be seen - stray over the line.’
    • ‘Perhaps you could give me a note, if that is appropriate, in due course, about the legislative history of trespass to Crown lands.’
    unlawful entry, intrusion, encroachment, invasion, infringement, impingement
    View synonyms
  • 2literary, archaic A sin; an offense.

    ‘the worst trespass against the goddess Venus is to see her naked and asleep’
    • ‘And so I came up with the idea of actually demanding compensation for the trespass.’
    • ‘After all, aren't they the guardians of the border, above all laws, sins, and trespasses?’
    • ‘Others, with stay-at-home, nonpolitical wives, were appalled at her trespasses onto the male public sphere.’
    • ‘Before his Damascus road experience, Paul was ‘dead in trespasses and sins.’’
    • ‘That's a mortal trespass, an unforgivable transgression that must be stopped.’


Middle English ( trespass): from Old French trespasser pass over, trespass trespas passing across from medieval Latin transpassare (see trans-, pass).