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?

We'll start with the answer and you provide the question: A word meaning "danger" that inspired the title of a popular game show. Got it? If you buzzed in "what is jeopardy?" you are correct! Today’s word dates back to at least the 1300s, 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 ieupardyes (the spelling Chaucer used in The Canterbury Tales), iupertie, iupartye, ieoperdis, and juperti. Indeed, like the eponymous quiz show Jeopardy!, today’s word has a long history; we’d wager it has a long future, too.

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 Said to be a throwback in the vein of Paramount’s classic erotic thrillers, the film watches as a chance encounter between a seemingly perfect couple and a powerful female attorney leads the couple down a scary path that throws everything into jeopardy. Matt Grobar, Deadline, 12 July 2024 But, at this point, should Biden engage the country in that level of jeopardy? David Remnick, The New Yorker, 29 June 2024 But because there are no specific laws around advanced AI development, whistleblowers in the AI industry have no such protections, and can be exposed to legal jeopardy themselves for breaking non-disclosure or non-disparagement agreements. Billy Perrigo, TIME, 5 June 2024 There is drama and jeopardy in abundance, yet no antagonist. The Week Us, theweek, 28 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for jeopardy 

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 24 Jul. 2024.

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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