jeop·​ar·​dy ˈje-pər-dē How to pronounce jeopardy (audio)
: exposure to or imminence of loss or injury : danger
placing their lives in jeopardy
workers in jeopardy of losing their jobs
law : the danger that an accused person is subjected to when on trial for a criminal offense

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 However, their reunion is put in jeopardy when a string of mysterious murders occur in Seattle as a means of revenge on Bella and the Cullen family. Francesca Gariano, Peoplemag, 21 Nov. 2023 As Dior rises to prominence with his groundbreaking, iconic imprint of beauty and influence, Chanel’s reign as the world’s most famous fashion designer is put into jeopardy. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, 16 Nov. 2023 And now her career, finances and identity are all in jeopardy. Ryan Chapman, Los Angeles Times, 14 Nov. 2023 Quite abruptly, Tierney was transferred to rackets, throwing his future into jeopardy. Robert Kolker, New York Times, 19 Oct. 2023 Bucs in serious jeopardy of falling to 1-3 on the season. Ben Thomas |, al, 15 Sep. 2023 Puigdemont on Thursday did not specifically address whether the amnesty would apply to him but said it had been drafted in the broadest possible terms to include anyone facing legal jeopardy because of the independence movement. Beatriz Ríos, Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2023 Rarely has an overseas presidential expedition been so uncertain even in its itinerary at the time of takeoff, and so freighted with jeopardy both political and physical. Peter Baker, New York Times, 18 Oct. 2023 The news outlet is hyper-focused on Trump’s legal jeopardy, with a team of experts ready to dissect every ruling, every filing, every comment. David Bauder, Fortune, 5 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'jeopardy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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


Dictionary Entries Near jeopardy

Cite this Entry

“Jeopardy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


jeop·​ar·​dy ˈjep-ərd-ē How to pronounce jeopardy (audio)

Legal Definition


jeop·​ar·​dy ˈje-pər-dē How to pronounce jeopardy (audio)
: exposure to or imminence of death, loss, or injury
: 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on jeopardy

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