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 The best way to control exposure is to eliminate the hazard. Kacey Ernst, The Conversation, "Should you fly yet? An epidemiologist and an exposure scientist walk you through the decision process," 22 May 2020 At the same time, the hazards of market timing are well known. Sarah Ponczek, Bloomberg.com, "Extreme Valuation Cases Wanted for a Red-Hot Rally in Equities," 19 May 2020 During a time when more and more of us sought comfort and connection online, the show offered a weekly warning about the hazards of losing yourself in a digital space. Sara Netzley, EW.com, "Supergirl finale recap: Sweet forgiveness and some serious cliffhangers," 18 May 2020 Some thunderstorms could be severe, with damaging winds and large hail the main hazards. Jesus Jimenez, Dallas News, "Strong thunderstorms possible Friday night in Dallas-Fort Worth, kicking off a wet weekend," 15 May 2020 The hazard of tight quarters inside Rose Bowl tunnels that link the concourse to seating areas could be reduced by making the tunnels one-way. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, "UCLA fans will be allowed back into the Rose Bowl someday ... but who will go?," 30 Apr. 2020 The public-health hazards of deepening unemployment and poverty—mental illness, suicide, addiction, malnutrition—are uncounted. Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, "The Price of the Coronavirus Pandemic," 13 Apr. 2020 One press image showed Namibia’s founding president, Sam Nujoma, cheerily bumping elbows with Police Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga, as though that offset the health hazard posed by hundreds of people congregating. Arthur Longworth, The New York Review of Books, "Pandemic Journal, April 6–12," 12 Apr. 2020 Such hazards of Jewish names were not uncommon in Central Europe, especially during the era of Jewish emancipation, when civic inclusion for the Jewish minority was often conditional upon its consent to local custom. Peter E. Gordon, The New Republic, "Karl Marx’s Prophetic Longing," 6 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Eissey wouldn’t hazard a guess as to how much government entities or HOAs pay on a per-street light basis, saying that pricing just isn’t broken down to that granular level. Dan Sweeney, sun-sentinel.com, "Who pays the electric bill for street lights and traffic signals? | You asked, we answer," 21 Nov. 2019 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

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

29 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hazard.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hazard. Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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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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