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verb, pe·ruse \pə-ˈrüz\

Simple Definition of peruse

  • : to look at or read (something) in an informal or relaxed way

  • : to examine or read (something) in a very careful way

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of peruse


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to examine or consider with attention and in detail :  study b :  to look over or through in a casual or cursory manner

  3. 2 :  read; especially :  to read over in an attentive or leisurely manner

perusal play \-ˈrü-zəl\ noun
peruser noun

Examples of peruse in a sentence

  1. To refresh my memory of the old days, I asked for some Dailies of the thirties from the morgue, sat down at the large round oak table at the end of the editorial room on the second floor, and began riffling through the musty pages. Soon a burly middle-aged man appeared and seated himself at the table to peruse some recent issues of the paper and take notes. —Arthur Miller, Timebends, 1987

  2. I've even found myself idly perusing the Yellow Pages, not frantic for a plumber, just browsing. —Lesley Conger, Writer, October 1968

  3. Bessie asked if I would have a book … , and I begged her to fetch Gulliver's Travels from the library. This book I had again and again perused with delight. —Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847

  4. He perused the newspaper over breakfast.

  5. <perused the manuscript, checking for grammatical errors>

Did You Know?

Peruse has long been a literary word, used by such famous authors as Shakespeare, Tennyson, and Thomas Hardy, and it tends to have a literary flavor even in our time. Peruse can suggest paying close attention to something, but it can also simply mean "to read." The "read" sense, which is not especially new and was in fact included in Samuel Johnson's 1755 dictionary, has drawn some criticism over the years for being too broad. Some commentators have recommended that peruse be reserved for reading with great care and attention to detail. But the fact remains that peruse is often used in situations where a simple "read" definition could be easily substituted. It may suggest either an attentive read or a quick scan.

Origin of peruse

Middle English, to use up, deal with in sequence, from Latin per- thoroughly + Middle English usen to use

First Known Use: 1532

PERUSE Defined for Kids


verb pe·ruse \pə-ˈrüz\

Definition of peruse for Students


  1. 1 :  read 1

  2. 2 :  to read through carefully

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up peruse? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to expose to danger or risk

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