noun jeop·ar·dy \ˈje-pər-dē\

Definition of jeopardy

  1. 1 :  exposure to or imminence of death, loss, or injury :  danger placing their lives in jeopardy workers in jeopardy of losing their jobs

  2. 2 law :  the danger that an accused person is subjected to when on trial for a criminal offense

jeopardy was our Word of the Day on 06/12/2015. Hear the podcast!

Examples of jeopardy in a sentence

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

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.

Origin and Etymology of jeopardy

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

First Known Use: 14th century

JEOPARDY Defined for Kids


noun jeop·ar·dy \ˈje-pər-dē\

Definition of jeopardy for Students

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

History for jeopardy

In French jeu parti means literally “divided game.” This phrase was used in medieval France for situations involving alternative possibilities, such as a chess game where a player could not be sure which of two plays would be better. In this sense jeu parti was borrowed into English as jeopardie. It came to be applied to any situation involving equal chances for success or failure. Gradually, the element of risk or danger in such a choice became the word's meaning.

Law Dictionary


noun jeop·ar·dy \ˈje-pər-dē\

Legal Definition of jeopardy

  1. 1 :  exposure to or imminence of death, loss, or injury

  2. 2 :  the danger of conviction that an accused person is subjected to when on trial for a criminal offense — see also double jeopardy

Additional Notes on jeopardy

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.

Seen and Heard

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capable of being understood in two ways

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