1 of 3

adjective (1)

: of a dark grayish blue resembling indigo

per se

2 of 3


 also  per-ˈsā,
(ˌ)pər-ˈsē How to pronounce per se (audio)
: by, of, or in itself or oneself or themselves : as such : intrinsically

per se

3 of 3

adjective (2)

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

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
The decision rested not on the size of the pay package per se, but rather on the fact that no serious efforts were undertaken to ensure that the pay package was in the best interest of shareholders. Peter Vanham, Fortune, 8 Feb. 2024 The plaintiffs are not asking for crypto assets to be returned to customers, per se, but for a more handsome compensation package that reflects their ownership of the crypto FTX has recovered. Joel Khalili, WIRED, 2 Feb. 2024 Not a gallery per se, but a treasure trove of original, mostly local and all contemporary art. Jessica Swannie, Charlotte Observer, 30 Jan. 2024 Striking union members railed about Netflix’s posting — even though the job in question centered on AI developments for content personalization and optimizing payment-processing systems, not generative-AI projects per se. Todd Spangler, Variety, 26 Jan. 2024 While this entry isn’t a coverlet per se, linen lovers may want to add this option to their shortlist. Sharon Brandwein, Southern Living, 19 Jan. 2024 The bill does not stipulate any penalties for eating dog meat per se. Michael Dorgan, Fox News, 9 Jan. 2024 What instead made the testimony infuriating was not the words per se but the hypocrisy of their assertion. Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, 23 Dec. 2023 While not poisonous per se, poinsettia leaves are reportedly unpleasant to eat and would likely cause stomach irritation, possibly giving the eater nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Stephen C. George, Discover Magazine, 13 Dec. 2023
Kendall has always been on a pretty individual, and individualistic, path in terms of his pursuit of the crown, per se. Clark Collis,, 22 Mar. 2023 Harden and the Rockets didn't enter the 2020 playoffs as championship favorites per se, though the partnership between Houston's superstar and then-co-star Russell Westbrook was quite successful for much of the 2019-20 season. Michael Shapiro, Chron, 15 Mar. 2023 Instead, Lucid leaders see a bright future in cars that aim for maximum efficiency — rather than range per se — via smaller, more-affordable batteries. IEEE Spectrum, 11 Mar. 2023 The band’s dazzling creations were not jazz, fusion or world music, per se, but a beguiling combination of all of them — and more. San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Mar. 2023 This price point is exceptional for beginners who want to try juicing for the first time, per se, for its health benefits. Brittany Vanderbill, Better Homes & Gardens, 15 Nov. 2022 Indeed, many in the past have made strong points that disruption like this, per se, is overrated. Jens Martin Skibsted, Forbes, 28 Dec. 2022 Not pita, per se — there’s no pocket, for one — but closer to a compact version of laffa, the high-hydration Iraqi bread that was an early inspiration. oregonlive, 16 Dec. 2022 While not a debate — per se — the two candidates who are hoping to win your vote on Nov. 8 sat with me separately for two segments, answering essentially the same questions. Carol Cain, Detroit Free Press, 30 Sep. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Adjective (1)

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



First Known Use

Adjective (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined above


1574, in the meaning defined above

Adjective (2)

circa 1655, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near perse

Cite this Entry

“Perse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Legal Definition

per se

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

per se

2 of 2 adjective
: 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


Latin, by, of, or in itself

Biographical Definition


biographical name

St. John see Aléxis Saint-Léger léger
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