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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Democrats disagree, arguing that the allegations against Burr are among the reasons why the Republican majority is in jeopardy. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "Republicans fear for Senate majority if Burr resigns and forces NC special election," 15 May 2020 The 2020 World Series is in jeopardy now, like the season itself, another American standby threatened by the pandemic. Tyler Kepner, New York Times, "Willie Mays at 89: ‘My Thing Is Keep Talking and Keep Moving’," 13 May 2020 With the latest dead period extension continuing through June 30, the summer evaluation period also appears in jeopardy. oregonlive, "NCAA extends Division I recruiting dead period through June 30," 13 May 2020 There are also reports that an October state visit from the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, is in jeopardy. Simon Perry,, "Queen Elizabeth to Step Back From All Public Duty Until Fall: Report," 11 May 2020 The weather service said more record lows could be in jeopardy both mornings. Leigh Morgan, al, "Record low temperatures this morning in Alabama -- more possible this weekend," 8 May 2020 When that is exhausted, their future will be in jeopardy. The Economist, "Re-exclusion For microfinance lenders, covid-19 is an existential threat," 5 May 2020 Another California Interscholastic Federation Northern California championship game — and another San Francisco high school team’s season — is in jeopardy due to concerns about the coronavirus. Mitch Stephens,, "Coronavirus may bring Lincoln boys’ dream season to an end," 8 Mar. 2020 The farms employ about 400 mostly immigrant workers whose jobs could be in jeopardy due to the loss of city business, in addition to area farmers growing corn for the feed and vendors selling other supplies. Washington Post, "New York City lawmakers pass bill banning sale of foie gras," 31 Oct. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about jeopardy

Time Traveler for jeopardy

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about jeopardy

Statistics for jeopardy

Last Updated

19 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Jeopardy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!