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?

Geoffrey Chaucer employed the word jeopardy in his late 14th-century masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, but its Middle English form can make it hard to spot: it appears in the phrase "in jupartie" with a meaning very much akin to the word's meaning in the modern phrase "in jeopardy"—that is, "in danger." The spellings of what we now render only as jeopardy were formerly myriad. The Oxford English Dictionary reports that between the late 14th and mid-17th centuries the word was spelled in a great variety of ways, among them iuperti, yoberte, iepardye, ieoberye, and jobardy.

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 Oktoberfest was canceled last year due to the pandemic, and this year's event could still be in jeopardy as European countries battle to control a third wave of coronavirus. Rob Picheta, CNN, "Munich reassures Germans that Oktoberfest won't be moving to Dubai," 2 May 2021 As the West’s water supplies are strained by deepening drought and the long-term effects of climate change, the latest research points to serious risks that many more wells could soon be in jeopardy as groundwater levels continue to sink lower. Ian James, The Arizona Republic, "A 'hidden crisis': Millions of groundwater wells are at risk of running dry, scientists find," 28 Apr. 2021 Even if Congress does respond to the Supreme Court’s decision with legislation, the FTC’s already pending cases seeking consumer redress could remain in jeopardy after last week’s ruling. Brent Kendall, WSJ, "FTC Head Says Supreme Court Ruling Puts More Than $2 Billion for Cheated Consumers at Risk," 27 Apr. 2021 Oscar victory has industry observers concerned that The Eternal’s China release could be in jeopardy. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "Beijing’s censorship of Chloe Zhao’s Oscar win could spell trouble for Marvel’s next blockbuster," 27 Apr. 2021 Kenyans who are living with HIV say their health is in jeopardy because the country is experiencing a shortage of anti-retroviral drugs that are donated by the U.S., the AP reports. Ashlee Banks, Essence, "Dispute Between U.S. Aid Agency and Kenya Causing HIV Drug Shortage in African Country, Per Reports," 27 Apr. 2021 The contract is now in jeopardy, and Family Tapestry has asked for a higher-level review of the probation order. Jacob Beltran, San Antonio Express-News, "State puts temporary hold on San Antonio emergency children's shelter," 26 Apr. 2021 Different areas had different health regulations, putting games with teams in some county — like Dallas County teams — in jeopardy. Joseph Hoyt, Dallas News, "How area coaches are approaching challenging task of filling out nondistrict TXHSFB schedule during COVID-19 (again)," 23 Apr. 2021 Robert Runcie’s future as superintendent of the nation’s sixth-largest school district could be in jeopardy. Skyler Swisher,, "Could Robert Runcie be out as schools superintendent?," 21 Apr. 2021

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

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Jeopardy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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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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