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 There is a holiday looming on this side of the pond, so this may be an opportunity to plan a menu or an invitation list, the hazards of family gatherings notwithstanding. Ed Silverman, STAT, "Pharmalittle: Bayer offered funding to influence foreign press group; a key Sanofi exec leaves as changes loom," 22 Nov. 2019 Concerns are mounting about the hazards of vaping among the young, prompting many Chinese to call for regulations. New York Times, "China’s Vaping Boom Alarms the Government," 22 Nov. 2019 Essential oil diffusers also pose the hazard of tipping over. Texas A&m University, Houston Chronicle, "PET TALK: A scent-sitive subject: Essential oil diffusers and your cat," 16 Nov. 2019 Removing the hazard of getting needles in your eye when reaching behind the tree to plug it in, Mr. Christmas’s lights are completely voice-activated. Hannah Chubb, PEOPLE.com, "This Alexa-Enabled Christmas Tree Is So 2019 — and It Keeps Selling out on Amazon," 14 Nov. 2019 Powell gets more aggressive The testimony marks a more aggressive tone for Powell, who generally has steered clear of lecturing lawmakers on the hazards of the federal deficit. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Powell: U.S. debt is 'on unsustainable path,' crimping ability to respond to recession," 13 Nov. 2019 Their skills were almost certainly not on par with the Boeing pilots who evaluated the hazards of the 737 Max design during the plane’s development. Tripti Lahiri, Quartz, "In the age of automation, the “human error” that dooms a plane isn’t confined to the cockpit," 28 Oct. 2019 But that had the effect of priming the system to replicate unevenness in access to healthcare in America—a case study in the hazards of combining optimizing algorithms with data that reflects raw social reality. Wired, "How an Algorithm Favored Whites Over Blacks for Health Care," 24 Oct. 2019 This is the hazard of doing business in a country where the government holds such powerful sway, including ownership interests, in commercial enterprises. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: In caving to the Chinese, the NBA reminds everyone that it’s a business like any other," 7 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb And yet from that email—from that everything—one can hazard a guess about Fred’s answers to the questions shouted at Pam Bondi in Tampa. Tom Junod, The Atlantic, "What Would Mister Rogers Do?," 7 Nov. 2019 Another catch is that the agreement would hazard unfettered trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The Economist, "Boris Johnson is trying to turn Northern Ireland into Hong Kong," 24 Oct. 2019 To hazard an imperfect analogy, the National Football League creates a draft, worst teams pick first, to foster competitiveness. Roger Lowenstein, Washington Post, "A reexamination of ownership in the age of the public corporation," 30 Aug. 2019 In other cases, where migrants hazard the open sea, naval and coast guard vessels intercept and deport them. Paul A. Kramer, The New Republic, "The Harsh World of Offshore Borders," 8 Aug. 2019 Nearly 60,000 people hazarded the Mediterranean crossing last year, following northward routes mapped by rumor and smugglers. Cynthia Gorney, National Geographic, "African migrants in Europe trade one hardship for another," 25 June 2019 During the trial, Winslow Sr. shepherded relatives back-and-forth on bathroom breaks, staring down media members who might hazard a question. Robert Klemko, SI.com, "You Never Knew Kellen Winslow Jr.," 13 June 2019 Government agencies, including the FBI, CIA, and NSA, declined to hazard a guess, or, indeed, to offer any comment at all. Popular Mechanics, "How Many Spies Are Currently Living in the U.S.?," 14 May 2017 In those 30 days, Hurley and Adams spoke and texted countless times, too many for either to hazard a guess. Dom Amore, courant.com, "UConn Men: Dan Hurley's Brutal Honesty, Tough Love, Resonates With Jalen Adams," 20 June 2018

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

28 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Hazard.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hazard?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=h&file=hazard01. Accessed 9 December 2019.

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More Definitions for hazard


How to pronounce hazard (audio)

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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