AskDefine | Define perfidy

Dictionary Definition



1 betrayal of a trust [syn: perfidiousness, treachery]
2 an act of deliberate betrayal [syn: treachery, betrayal, treason]

User Contributed Dictionary



From the Latin perfidus, "faithless, treacherous or false."
Root: fidelis > fides, "faith", as in fidelity.


  1. The act of violating faith or allegiance; violation of a promise or vow, or of trust reposed; faithlessness; treachery.
  2. Specifically, in warfare, the act of using symbols like the Red Cross or white flag to attack the enemy, considered a war crime.


Related terms


Extensive Definition

Perfidy is an act of deliberate treachery or deception.
Under the 1977 Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 (Protocol I) there is a specific prohibition on perfidy: Perfidy was part of the customary laws of war long before the prohibition of perfidy was included in Protocol I. For example in the Hague IV: Laws and Customs of War on Land; (October 18, 1907) Article 23 includes: The issue of whether the donning of enemy unforms in order to approach the enemy without drawing fire was within the laws of war was established under international humanitarian law at the trial in 1947 of the planner and commander of Operation Greif, Otto Skorzeny, at the Dachau Trials. The court did not find Skorzeny guilty of a crime by ordering his men into action in American uniforms. He had passed on to his men the warning of German legal experts, that if they fought in American uniforms, they would be breaking the laws of war, but they probably were not doing so just by wearing the uniform. During the trial, a number of arguments were advanced to substantiate this position and that the German and US military seem to be in agreement on it. In its judgement the Court noted that the case did not require that the Court make findings other than those of guilty or not guilty, so consequently no safe conclusion could be drawn from the acquittal of all accused.


perfidy in German: Perfidie
perfidy in Serbian: Ratna perfidija

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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