Perpetrator Definition ›› Perpetrate vs. Perpetuate



Is a person who carries out a harmful or illegal act. Perpetrators are the people who commit horrible crimes or do or set horrible things into motion.

  • The police put out a nationwide search to find the perpetrator of the double homicide.
  • The teacher asked the students in the class who the perpetrator of the vicious rumor was.


Is the action of carrying out or doing a harmful or illegal act. What constitutes as a bad act is a matter of opinion.

  • He was mostly a petty thief, so it was surprising to discover that he perpetrated an act such as this.
  • I want to be successful in business, but I draw the line at perpetrating a crime.

Just to be clear perpetuate is the bad act (the verb) and the perpetrator is the person who does the act (the noun).

A word that is often confused with perpetrate is perpetuate. Let’s explore the meaning of perpetuate, which is a word the is spelled in a similar way, but the meanings of the two words are very different.

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Means to make a situation continue indefinitely. The situation that is being spoken of is usually a negative one, and by doing some sort of action someone or something is making the situation continue.

The amount of time that the negative situation will continue is unknown, and will most likely not stop until the action that is causing the situation to continue ends.

  • Not disciplining your child, just perpetuates his bad behavior.
  • The tension between the two of you will continue to be perpetuated unless you talk about what’s bothering you.


Can also speak to something that is positive and values being continued and kept from ending or facing extinction.

  • It was amazing how she was able to perpetuate the growth of the company during the economic crash.
  • Despite being almost hunted into extinction big game species have continued to perpetuate their existence.

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Perpetrate vs. Perpetuate

As you can see from the above definitions, the spelling is just about the only thing these two words have in common. Their meanings are extremely different. Just to review a  perpetrator is the person who perpetrates or commits a bad act.

While perpetuate is a bad situation that continues because of something negative that is being done. Perpetrator is a bad act. How long that bad act last has nothing to do with the meaning of the word.

Perpetuate, speaks to an act that has already been going on. The fact that it’s being perpetuated just means that it’s continuing, most likely due to someone’s actions. The actions that are causing the situation to perpetuate may or may not be intentionally bad.

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Synonyms for Perpetrate


As a synonym to perpetrate, it means to do something, or carry something out. The phrase commiting a crime, is a common use of this word.

  • I feel like I have to prove to everyone that I’m not the one who committed the mistake.


As a synonym to perpetrate  means to accomplish or fulfill something.

  • We have to perform the duties that are outlined in the contract.


As a synonym to perpetrate means to carry out or put something into effect. This is often use when speaking about carrying out instructions, or when speaking about carrying out a contract.

  • They executed their bosses orders.

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Synonyms for Perpetuate


As a synonym to perpetuate  means that something stays the way it is, it stays in its current state. It doesn’t shrink, it doesn’t grow.

It doesn’t change. It can also mean to retain or keep something. Furthermore, it can mean to keep something safe, and make sure it isn’t harmed.

  • He lied to try to preserve the relationship.


As a synonyms to perpetuate means that something becomes larger, or covers a bigger space or area.

This can refer to physical space, and it can also refer to time. In this case a period of time would be made longer. It can also include the scope of an idea or project becoming larger.

  • The deadline for the project was extended for an extra week.


As a synonym to perpetuate  means to cause or enable something to continue for a longer period of time. The thing that is being maintained could be positive or negative. It simply means to keep something going longer.

  • Moisturizing your face, will help you maintain a youthful look.

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