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

But in the small hours of July 6th Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, put the progress in jeopardy by sacking Murat Cetinkaya, the boss of the central bank. The Economist, "Recep Tayyip Erdogan sacks the head of Turkey’s central bank," 11 July 2019 Over time, the President’s embrace of autocrats and his dismissal of human rights could put the lives of millions of people around the world—including Americans—in jeopardy. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, "The Unbelievable Hypocrisy of Trump’s New “Unalienable Rights” Panel," 9 July 2019 But there are eight others who are tabbed for 29 home runs this year, so that record is also in jeopardy. Neil Greenberg, The Denver Post, "MLB home run projections are bonkers," 8 July 2019 The organization’s mission is to deliver quality veterinary care and the promise of family for senior animals, primarily dogs, whose lives are in jeopardy. Julie Gallant, Ramona Sentinel, "Frosted Faces celebrates five years of rescuing senior pets," 5 July 2019 Legally, Latham knew, Sestan and his team weren’t in jeopardy. Matthew Shaer, New York Times, "Scientists Are Giving Dead Brains New Life. What Could Go Wrong?," 2 July 2019 By the same token, physicians participating in a single-payer health-care system can expect to find their own autonomy in jeopardy. William A. Estes, National Review, "The American Medical Association Flirts with Socialized Medicine," 28 June 2019 When Buggin Out first challenges Sal about the photos on the wall, Mookie walks him out of the pizzeria and admonishes him for putting his job in jeopardy. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "The Enduring Urgency of Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” at Thirty," 28 June 2019 Feeling frustrated and worried that his health was in jeopardy, Robinson ripped an IV out of his arm and checked himself out against medical advice. Barbara Brody,, "'Hospital Diversion' Is Perfectly Legal and Putting People at Risk. Here's What You Need to Know," 27 June 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.

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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

15 Jul 2019

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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 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

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characterized by aphorism

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