jeop·​ar·​dy | \ ˈje-pər-dē How to pronounce jeopardy (audio) \

Definition of jeopardy

1 : exposure to or imminence of death, loss, or injury : danger placing their lives in jeopardy workers in jeopardy of losing their jobs
2 law : the danger that an accused person is subjected to when on trial for a criminal offense

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Did You Know?

Centuries ago, the Old French term jeu parti didn't mean "danger" but rather "an alternative" or, literally, "a divided game." That French expression was used for anything that represented an alternative viewpoint or gave two opposing viewpoints. "Jeu parti" passed into Anglo-French as juparti, and from there it was borrowed into Middle English and respelled "jeopardie." At first, the English word was used to refer to the risks associated with alternative moves in the game of chess. Soon, however, the term came to be used more generally in the "risk" or "danger" sense that it has today.

Examples of jeopardy in a Sentence

the city's firefighters routinely put their lives in jeopardy by executing daring rescues

Recent Examples on the Web

But the idea that all life on this planet is in jeopardy if America doesn’t wean itself from fossil fuels is just hyperbole. Jonah Goldberg, National Review, "Climate Change Is a Real Concern — Not an Existential Crisis," 6 Sep. 2019 Yet that turnaround is in jeopardy thanks to right forearm tightness that caused him to miss his last start. Jon Tayler,, "Inconsistent Cubs Need Uninterrupted Success Soon to Avoid Disappointing Finish," 5 Sep. 2019 So don’t be shocked that Bethel stuck over more hotly debated names or that players such as Bowser and wide receiver Chris Moore were never really in jeopardy (while Henry, a non-contributor on special teams, lost his job). Childs Walker,, "Five Things We Learned from the Ravens’ 2019 roster cuts," 1 Sep. 2019 Given the severity of labrum tears, the start of his 2020 season is in jeopardy as well, but Bochy said more tests will be run to determine treatment and prognosis. Henry Schulman,, "Giants’ Kevin Pillar breaks team’s drought of 20-HR players; 3 others close," 1 Sep. 2019 Velcro Velcro created a funny video that claims its brand trademark is in jeopardy because people keep using the word Velcro as a generic term for all types of hook-and-loop fasteners. Mary Kilpatrick,, "What is content marketing? Here are five great examples," 27 Aug. 2019 Then Logan learns someone leaked his latest plan to storm Pierce to the Pierce family, putting the whole operation in jeopardy. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Succession Game of Thrones Sees an Unlikely Contender Emerge," 26 Aug. 2019 But when children without real contraindications or severe enough precautions for vaccination don’t get vaccinated, that herd immunity is put in jeopardy. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "What Actually Counts as a Medical Exemption for Vaccines—and What's at Stake When They're Abused," 26 Aug. 2019 The White House’s short-term strategy remains confusing, with Chinese imports potentially put in jeopardy. Matthew De Silva, Quartz, "When Trump takes on China and the Fed, stocks lose," 23 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'jeopardy.' 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 jeopardy

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for jeopardy

Middle English jeopardie, from Anglo-French juparti, jeuparti alternative, literally, divided game

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Statistics for jeopardy

Last Updated

9 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for jeopardy

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

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More Definitions for jeopardy


jeop·​ar·​dy | \ ˈje-pər-dē How to pronounce jeopardy (audio) \

Kids Definition of jeopardy

: danger sense 1 The wrong choice could put your future in jeopardy.


jeop·​ar·​dy | \ ˈje-pər-dē How to pronounce jeopardy (audio) \

Legal Definition of jeopardy

1 : exposure to or imminence of death, loss, or injury
2 : the danger of conviction that an accused person is subjected to when on trial for a criminal offense — see also double jeopardy

Note: Jeopardy attaches, or comes into effect for double jeopardy purposes, when a jury is sworn in or, in a non-jury trial, when the judge begins to hear evidence. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbids double jeopardy for the same offense, and this applies whether the first trial ends in acquittal, conviction, or a mistrial. If a mistrial occurs due to a manifest necessity or if a defendant appeals a conviction, however, the rule against double jeopardy does not apply. The issue of manifest necessity is determined by the trial judge and, if necessary, by an appeals court.

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More from Merriam-Webster on jeopardy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for jeopardy

Spanish Central: Translation of jeopardy

Nglish: Translation of jeopardy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of jeopardy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on jeopardy

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


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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