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

According to TVInsider, Anna was trying to get close to Kate to get intel on Callen’s father, but Kate may have discovered that Anna was playing her—and now may be the reason Anna’s in jeopardy. Megan Stein, Country Living, "'NCIS: LA' Is Bringing Back Both of Callen's Ex-Girlfriends and It's Seriously Intense," 5 May 2019 How else are reproductive rights in jeopardy with this vacant Supreme Court seat? Lily Herman, Teen Vogue, "What Donald Trump’s Supreme Court Nomination Could Mean for Abortion Access," 10 July 2018 Jurors convicted Abu Khattala on four counts, including providing material support for terrorism and destroying property and placing lives in jeopardy at the U.S. compound, but acquitted him on 14 others, included murder. Washington Post, "Libyan gets 22 years for attacks on US consulate in Benghazi," 27 June 2018 To now, Weber has been able to deftly play the disrespect card, including last season when his job appeared to be in jeopardy with a new athletic director in place and K-State picked near the bottom of the Big 12. Vahe Gregorian, kansascity, "K-State's Bruce Weber now must meet expectations instead of defying them," 1 June 2018 Some field event records are in jeopardy at this year's Stanford Invitational. Ken Goe,, "Cost estimates continue to soar for Hayward Field renovation: Oregon track & field rundown," 29 Mar. 2018 Now, their funding is in jeopardy at a terrible time. Lizzie Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, "Despite wounds from fire, Sonoma County facing millions in mental health cuts," 15 Mar. 2018 And even after Saturday's win, their streak of four straight Big East regular-season titles remains in jeopardy with Xavier challenging for the crown. Dave Zeitlin, Houston Chronicle, "No. 1 Villanova rallies past Butler 86-75," 10 Feb. 2018 CovCath’s is in jeopardy at the hands of Highlands, who defeated the Colonels in the NKAC meet and the Scott Classic. James Weber,, "Regional championships on the line in swimming, wrestling," 9 Feb. 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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Statistics for jeopardy

Last Updated

20 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

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).


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