adjective (1)
\ˈpərs \

Definition of perse 

(Entry 1 of 4)

: of a dark grayish blue resembling indigo

per se

\(ˌ)pər-ˈsā also per-ˈsā or (ˌ)pər-ˈsē \

Definition of per se (Entry 2 of 4)

: by, of, or in itself or oneself or themselves : as such : intrinsically

per se

adjective (2)

Definition of per se (Entry 3 of 4)

: being such inherently, clearly, or as a matter of law a per se conflict of interest


biographical name

Definition of Perse (Entry 4 of 4)

St. John — see Aléxis Saint-Léger léger

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Did You Know?

We generally use per se to distinguish between something in its narrow sense and some larger thing that it represents. Thus, you may have no objection to educational testing per se, but rather to the way testing is done. An opposition party may attack a president's policy not because they dislike the policy per se but because they want to weaken the president. And when New York's police chief decided to crack down on small crimes, it wasn't the small crimes per se that were his target, but instead the larger crimes which he believed would be reduced because of this new approach.

Examples of perse in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Craft cocktails at Apothéke Academy Fine, a cocktail course may not be cooking per se—but every proper meal needs a drink pairing, no? Christian Allaire, Vogue, "The Best Cooking and Baking Classes in New York City," 18 Oct. 2018 In its 10th and final season — which wasn’t a return to form, per se, but a better season than the few that preceded it — Murphy Brown gave its heroine one last big story arc. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "The rise, fall, and unlikely return of Murphy Brown, explained," 27 Sep. 2018 Photography, per se, is largely incidental to the show. Mark Feeney,, "A different lens for Winslow Homer," 28 June 2018 Dear Distressed: Vocal fry is not an accent, per se, but a style of speaking. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, "Women MBA candidates are subjects of offensive list," 22 Mar. 2018 Her book, as well as much of Duckworth's research on the psychology that helps chil- dren thrive, isn't about rebelling, per se. The Editors, Marie Claire, "Proof That Big Risks Pay Off: 3 Women Who Owe Their Success to Not Playing It Safe," 20 Mar. 2017 That agreement should seek to change Chinese practices, not reduce the trade deficit per se. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Missing China Trade Strategy," 18 Sep. 2018 There’s nothing wrong per se with a growing trade deficit. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Donald Trump talks like a mob boss — and reminds us he has no idea what he’s doing," 23 Aug. 2018 At the time, the U.S. was well-established as a destination for immigrant — despite turning away some migrants during the war — but didn’t have a specific law to deal with refugees per se. Lily Rothman, Time, "This Was President Truman's Powerful Message on Why the U.S. Should Help Refugees," 20 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'perse.' 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 perse

Adjective (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined above


1574, in the meaning defined above

Adjective (2)

circa 1655, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for perse

Adjective (1)

Middle English pers, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin persus



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Dictionary Entries near perse


per saltum



per se



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Time Traveler for perse

The first known use of perse was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for perse

per se


English Language Learners Definition of per se

: by, of, or in itself

per se

\pər-ˈsā, ˌper-; pər-ˈsē \

Legal Definition of per se 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : inherently, strictly, or by operation of statute, constitutional provision or doctrine, or case law the transaction was illegal per se — see also negligence per se at negligence, nuisance per se at nuisance

2 : without proof of special damages or reference to extrinsic circumstances defamatory statements that were actionable per se — compare per quod

per se


Legal Definition of per se (Entry 2 of 2)

: being such inherently, clearly, or by operation of statute, constitutional provision or doctrine, or case law it is clear that licensing of adult entertainment establishments is not a per se violation of the First AmendmentClub Southern Burlesque, Inc. v. City of Carrollton, 457 S.E.2d 816 (1995) a per se conflict of interest

History and Etymology for perse


Latin, by, of, or in itself

More from Merriam-Webster on perse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with perse

Comments on perse

What made you want to look up perse? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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