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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.
Recent Examples of per se from the Web
But developing a vaccine against all strains is not only vital to reduce the suffering from a pandemic per se.
In this view, the problem isn’t the American public’s veneration of the armed services above all other institutions, or the gross misallocation of resources and preemptive wars that this abets — or even the concept of a military parade, per se.
Trump was never selling populism per se but rather a faux-populism that masked a defense of aggrieved privilege, with the selling point being that Trump was the tough guy who could protect the social status quo his followers loved.
Oh, and this isn’t a delay per se, but The Division 2 is also slated to release sometime in the next year.
It was never considered an investigation, per se, but an inquiry.
Chick-fil-A: Not a deal, per se, but the chicken sandwich chain has a new iced tea drink, the White Peach Tea Lemonade, available this summer at restaurants nationwide.
Not literal plasma, per se, even though the broken nose that defenseman Colin Miller suffered on a third-period check from Oshie might hint otherwise.
Ocean's 8 isn't even about women, per se, although the press for the movie is very focused on gender.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'per se.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
PERSE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of per se for English Language Learners
: by, of, or in itself
legal Definition of per se
- defamatory statements that were actionable per se
Origin and Etymology of per se
legal Definition of per se
- it is clear that licensing of adult entertainment establishments is not a per se violation of the First Amendment
- —Club Southern Burlesque, Inc. v. City of Carrollton, 457 S.E.2d 816 (1995)
- a per se conflict of interest
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