haz·​ard | \ ˈha-zərd How to pronounce hazard (audio) \

Definition of hazard

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a source of danger hazards on the roadway
2a : the effect of unpredictable and unanalyzable forces in determining events : chance, risk the hazards involved in owning your own business men and women danced together, women danced together, men danced together, as hazard had brought them together— Charles Dickens
b : a chance event : accident looked like a fugitive, who had escaped from something in clothes caught up at hazard— Willa Cather
3 : a golf-course obstacle (such as a bunker or a pond)
4 : a game of chance like craps played with two dice
5 obsolete : stake sense 3a
at hazard
: at stake


hazarded; hazarding; hazards

Definition of hazard (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to offer or present at a risk : venture hazard a guess as to the outcome

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Did You Know?

At first hazard was a game of chance played with dice. The English word comes from medieval French, in which the game was called hasard. This French word was probably borrowed from Arabic az-zahr, meaning “the dice” or “one of the dice.” The game was borrowed from the French by the English, and within a few centuries what had been a chance taken on the outcome of a throw of the dice could be any venture or risk. Now “chance” or “venture” and “risk” or “peril” are the usual meanings of hazard. The verb hazard emerged in the 16th century.

Examples of hazard in a Sentence

Noun the tumbledown old barn was considered a fire hazard it was only by hazard and good fortune that we found our way back to the trail Verb His friend asked him to hazard a small sum in a business venture. just so the tourists could see the sea lions up close, the captain needlessly hazarded his ship
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun While the hazard pay ordinance isn’t expected to impact Maine’s overall economy, the full impact on Portland and surrounding communities remains to be seen. Sarah Downey, Washington Examiner, "As Maine 'hazard pay' ordinance sees delay, small business group fears impact once in effect," 5 Feb. 2021 There needs to be a greater focus on heat as a hazard at all levels of government, Hondula said, and more funding to help reduce risks and protect people who are vulnerable. Ian James, The Arizona Republic, "Heat killed a record number of people in Arizona last year, 'a staggering increase'," 1 Feb. 2021 See below for details about each hazard, or get your personalized forecast at https://t.co/aqcnsXbggc. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "More than 2,000 without power as heavy rain moves through Mass.," 16 Jan. 2021 And in a state where livable space is at a premium, building safely in high fire hazard zones is the key to a sustainable future, said Mike Balsamo, Rancho Mission Viejo’s senior vice president for governmental relations. New York Times, "Hounded by Wildfires, Californians Rethink Their Willingness to Rebuild," 15 Jan. 2021 The uber challenge facing the incoming Biden administration’s Environmental Protection Agency in its oversight of 1,570 hazard waste sites is best summed in a name that’s become synonymous with the daunting task: Superfund. NBC News, "Biden will inherit hundreds of toxic waste Superfund sites, with climate threats looming," 28 Dec. 2020 The drought — yet another hazard of 2020 — is putting a small crimp in the fun. Jacob Beltran, ExpressNews.com, "Bexar County bans some fireworks because of drought," 28 Dec. 2020 The recent temporary shutdown of the Middleburg Heights Comfort Inn due to a serious hazard order can serve as a wake-up call for holiday travelers to make sure, in advance, that their out-of-town accommodations are safe. Beth Mlady, cleveland, "Local fire prevention officer advises holiday travelers to check hotel safety," 18 Dec. 2020 Russia posted a nearly identical hazard zone during a similar PL19 test in April: This content is imported from Twitter. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "It Sure Looks Like Russia Just Tested a Space Weapon," 17 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But Omni and other hotel owners won’t hazard a guess about whether the holiday season will be a meaningful revenue boost for their beleaguered businesses. Dallas News, "Dallas hotels hit hard by COVID see massive drops in revenue and reservations as holidays loom," 24 Nov. 2020 Wantonly stuffing workers into crowded meat-processing plants and distribution warehouses without sufficient protective equipment, let alone hazard pay, is mostly business as usual. J.c. Pan, The New Republic, "Hazard Pay Was Just a Brand Exercise," 20 Nov. 2020 Brown himself won’t hazard to guess what could materialize in the aftermath. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "Tired of Michigan football, Michigan State facing patsies? Pandemic may end that trend," 13 Sep. 2020 Some companies, such as Starbucks and Dell, have pulled their guidance on annual earnings, declining even to hazard a guess about the future. The Economist, "Picking off the weak How deep will downturns in rich countries be?," 16 Apr. 2020 Megan Colligan, president of Imax Entertainment, would not publicly hazard a guess. Nicole Sperling, BostonGlobe.com, "Neither lights, camera, nor action," 19 Apr. 2020 Megan Colligan, the president of Imax Entertainment, would not publicly hazard a guess. Nicole Sperling, New York Times, "Hollywood’s Backstage Creatives Try to Soldier On," 19 Apr. 2020 This term dating to the 1990s is by this point universally known in contemporary America, where even the stodgiest of grandparents will hazard the occasional (often embarrassing, granted) LOL in Facebook comments or personal texts. Ryan P. Smith, Smithsonian Magazine, "How Crosswords Came of Age in the 2010s," 31 Dec. 2019 The Tesla Model 3 is not merely a car but a hyper-connected piece of technology that knows what ails you, what hazards your surroundings may pose and tries to predict your every next move. Faiz Siddiqui, Washington Post, "The Technology 202: I drove a Tesla Model 3 and here's what I learned: Trust but verify," 3 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hazard.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hazard


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4


circa 1601, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hazard

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French hasard, from Old Spanish azar, from Arabic al-zahr the die

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Time Traveler for hazard

Time Traveler

The first known use of hazard was in the 14th century

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Statistics for hazard

Last Updated

15 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hazard.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hazard. Accessed 25 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for hazard



English Language Learners Definition of hazard

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a source of danger
golf : something on a golf course (such as a pond or an area of sand) that makes hitting the ball into the hole more difficult



English Language Learners Definition of hazard (Entry 2 of 2)

: to risk losing (something, such as money) in an attempt to get, win, or achieve something
: to offer (something, such as a guess or an opinion) even though you may be wrong


haz·​ard | \ ˈha-zərd How to pronounce hazard (audio) \

Kids Definition of hazard

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a source of danger a fire hazard


hazarded; hazarding

Kids Definition of hazard (Entry 2 of 2)

: to offer something (such as a guess or an opinion) at the risk of being wrong


haz·​ard | \ ˈha-zərd How to pronounce hazard (audio) \

Legal Definition of hazard

: a condition that tends to create or increase the possibility of loss used especially in insurance law

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