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

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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
Said a slightly different way, does the criminal immunity that essentially places the president above the law also make all his military orders lawful per se? Andrew Turley, Sun Sentinel, 16 July 2024 Our historically conservative budgeting with consistently higher revenue and lower expenditures, plus ample rainy-day funds, do not predict any deficits per se. Sam Kmack, The Arizona Republic, 9 July 2024 The final product, by Chief Justice John Roberts, in a 6-3 split along partisan lines, did not say the president is a king, per se, but appointed itself arbiter of where their power ends. New York Daily News Editorial Board, New York Daily News, 2 July 2024 There are certain parts of the process that are proprietary and they won’t be easily copied per se. Andy Mills, Quartz, 5 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for perse 

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

per se



Cite this Entry

“Perse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 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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