\ ˈpərs How to pronounce perse (audio) \

Definition of perse

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: of a dark grayish blue resembling indigo

per se

\ (ˌ)pər-ˈsā also per-ˈsā or (ˌ)pər-ˈsē How to pronounce per se (audio) \

Definition of per se (Entry 2 of 3)

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

per se

adjective (2)

Definition of per se (Entry 3 of 3)

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

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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.

Examples of perse in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Ken had been hired out of college by his roommate’s friend—not a favor, per se, but an act of kindness that enabled their white, middle-class suburban dreams. Grayson Haver Currin, Outside Online, 15 Feb. 2022 The states are arguing that the problem isn’t the contract, per se, but rather Apple’s conduct. Tim De Chant, Ars Technica, 28 Jan. 2022 It’s not a capacity limit by number of people, per se. Caroline Tien, San Antonio Express-News, 24 Nov. 2021 Their analysis is not wrong, per se—as an objective measure, the 13 Pro does have a better screen. Steven Aquino, Forbes, 6 Oct. 2021 Rising, a fourth-year sophomore, is not the incumbent, per se, but has already won the job once. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, 3 Aug. 2021 Well, not exactly cheap, per se, but gas is far less expensive in the South than out West. David Goldman, CNN, 30 May 2021 There is no feud, per se, between Graham Rahal and Harvey but the two certainly had to clear the air following a disagreement at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this month. Michael Marot, ajc, 14 May 2021 It’s not about forgiveness, per se, but just kind of understanding the dynamics of what’s going on. Rasha Ali, USA TODAY, 21 Feb. 2021 See More

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.

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

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Cite this Entry

“Perse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perse. Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for perse

per se

\ pər-ˈsā, ˌper-; pər-ˈsē How to pronounce per se (audio) \

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

Perse biographical name

Definition of Perse

St. John — see Aléxis Saint-Léger léger


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