Perpetrate vs. Perpetuate

Esher style illustration featuring multiple staircases running in different perspedtives with fugures moving about everyday life
Esher style illustration depicting perpetual staircases.

aroderick/Getty Images


If you are having trouble understand the differences between perpetrate and perpetuate, you're not the only one. These verbs are commonly confused. The verb perpetrate means to commit, carry out, or bring about. The verb perpetuate means to prolong the existence of or to cause to last indefinitely.

Examples of the Two Words

  • "The link between perpetuate and perpetual suggests the long-term association of the first word. Similarly, the connection between perpetrate and perpetrator helps to clarify the meaning of that verb."
    (Philip Gooden, Who's Whose: A No-Nonsense Guide to Easily Confused Words. Bloomsbury, 2004)
  • "This whole baby thing baffles me. I mean you have it, you raise it, you inevitably screw it up, it resents you, feels guilty for resenting you and then it has a baby, which only perpetuates the vicious cycle."
    (Demi Moore as Samantha Albertson in Now and Then, 1995)
  • The blogger attempted to perpetrate a fraud on his readers.
  • Every business that leaves the city helps to perpetuate a cycle of rising unemployment, diminishing city services, and increased crime.

Test Your Knowledge 

(a) My office computer was used to _____ a crime.
(b) The children decided to _____ the memory of their father by publishing his biography.

Answers to Practice Exercises

(a) My office computer was used to perpetrate a crime.
(b) The children decided to perpetuate the memory of their father by publishing his biography.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "Perpetrate vs. Perpetuate." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Nordquist, Richard. (2021, February 16). Perpetrate vs. Perpetuate. Retrieved from Nordquist, Richard. "Perpetrate vs. Perpetuate." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 28, 2023).