According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, to plagiarize is to:
As the dictionary states, it's first known use was in 1660, so this type of theft has been with us a long time! Yet, it can be difficult to ensure you don't plagiarize. This guide will help you.
There are many examples of well known figures found plagiarizing, from current First Lady Melania Trump, to former Vice President and current Democratic primary candidate Joe Biden. It may appear that there are little to no consequences in 'real life' for plagiarizing. These two figures have suffered little. After all, there is no law against it. There is only the negative attention and shame.
But in academia and scholarly communications, this is not the case. Consequences for plagiarizing, which is a violation of academic integrity, can be very serious, including failing classes and having degrees revoked. These consequences may not occur until long after your time at college. For example, a Canadian educator lost his job and had his PhD revoked after plagiarism accusations arose, and a nominee for a job at the US National Security Council withdrew from consideration when the scrutiny of entry to public service revealed plagiarism in her PhD thesis.
See the CUNY and CSI policies linked in the box on the left for more details on the consequences of not upholding academic integrity.