: From the Latin plagiarius, meaning "kidnapper." Copying or closely imitating the work of another writer, composer, etc., without permission and with the intention of passing the results off as original work. In publishing, copyright law makes literary theft a criminal offense. At most colleges and universities, plagiarism is considered a moral and ethical issue, and instructors impose penalties on students who engage in it. Plagiarism can be avoided by expressing a thought, idea, or concept in one's own words. When it is necessary to paraphrase closely, the source should be documented with a parenthetical citation and listed in the references at the end of the paper.