jeop·ar·dy | \ˈje-pər-dē \

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

Before going on the disabled list May 11 with a lower back strain, Tillman went 1-5 with a 10.46 ERA in seven starts with the Orioles, putting his rotation spot in jeopardy. Katherine Fominykh,, "Orioles notes: Chris Tillman a possibility for Sunday start against Rangers," 14 July 2018 Nearly two weeks after Parson issued the vetoes, his director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, Randall Williams, began reaching out personally to stakeholders to assure them the program wasn’t in jeopardy. Jason Hancock, kansascity, "Hospitals fear Parson budget cut could endanger stroke, heart attack, trauma patients," 13 July 2018 Read more But privately, other House Republicans and strategists said Mr. Jordan’s career could be in jeopardy. Ben Kesling, WSJ, "Allegations Complicate Rep. Jim Jordan’s Political Career," 11 July 2018 Fuller, whose roster spot seemed to be in jeopardy at this time a year ago, turned in an encouraging performance in his contract season. Dan Wiederer,, "Prince Amukamara 'reaching for the stars' with his 10-interception goal this season," 11 July 2018 But a finish outside the top four in the Southeastern Conference East would put Odom’s job back in jeopardy. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "Ten college football coaches on the hot seat entering this season," 6 July 2018 Her sole purpose in life has been to get a baby no matter the cost, but with her own safety so clearly in jeopardy, Serena can no longer pretend that her child will be any safer. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Finale Offers a Light in the Darkness," 11 July 2018 The citizenship of her now-adult children is not in jeopardy. Adiel Kaplan, miamiherald, "Miami grandma targeted as U.S. takes aim at naturalized immigrants with prior offenses," 9 July 2018 With Myerson departing and Microsoft reorganizing, these development priorities were always likely to change, putting Andromeda in jeopardy. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Software delays, lack of purpose means Microsoft’s “Andromeda” may never arrive," 2 July 2018

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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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 \

Kids Definition of jeopardy

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


jeop·ar·dy | \ˈje-pər-dē \

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

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a state of commotion or excitement

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