pe·ren·ni·al | \pə-ˈre-nē-əl \

Definition of perennial 

1 : present at all seasons of the year

2 : persisting for several years usually with new herbaceous growth from a perennating part perennial asters

3a : persistent, enduring perennial favorites

b : continuing without interruption : constant, perpetual the perennial quest for certainty a perennial student

c : regularly repeated or renewed : recurrent death is a perennial literary theme

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Other Words from perennial

perennial noun
perennially \pə-ˈre-nē-ə-lē \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for perennial

continual, continuous, constant, incessant, perpetual, perennial mean characterized by continued occurrence or recurrence. continual often implies a close prolonged succession or recurrence. continual showers the whole weekend continuous usually implies an uninterrupted flow or spatial extension. football's oldest continuous rivalry constant implies uniform or persistent occurrence or recurrence. lived in constant pain incessant implies ceaseless or uninterrupted activity. annoyed by the incessant quarreling perpetual suggests unfailing repetition or lasting duration. a land of perpetual snowfall perennial implies enduring existence often through constant renewal. a perennial source of controversy

Did You Know?

Nowadays when we talk about "perennial plants," or simply "perennials" ("perennial" can be a noun, too), we mean plants that die back seasonally but produce new growth in the spring. But originally "perennial" was equivalent to "evergreen," used for plants that remain with us all year. We took this "throughout the year" sense straight from the Romans, whose Latin perennis combined "per-" ("throughout") with a form of "annus" ("year"). The poet Ovid, writing around the beginning of the first millennium, used the Latin word to refer to a "perennial spring" (water source), and the scholar Pliny used it of birds that don't migrate. Our "perennial" retains these same uses, for streams and occasionally for birds, but it has long had extended meanings, too.

Examples of perennial in a Sentence

The problem … is inherent and perennial in any democracy, but it has been more severe in ours during the past quarter-century because of the near universal denigration of government, politics and politicians. — Michael Kinsley, Time, 29 Oct. 2001 The issue between science and art is of perennial interest to me, since I started off in science in college, in medicine, was headed for psychiatry, and ended up writing novels … — Walker Percy, "The State Of The Novel," 1977, in Signposts in a Strange Land1991 … scientists are warning that a perennial viral threat, the upcoming flu season, could be far more dangerous than usual—more evidence that these tiny foes are responsible for a large share of human suffering. — Claudia Wallis, Time, 3 Nov. 1986 This variety of oregano is perennial. Flooding is a perennial problem for people living by the river.
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Recent Examples on the Web

For perennial weeds, a couple of products are available, including imazaquin (Image for Nutgrass) and sethoxydim (Vantage). Walter Reeves, ajc, "Orchid needs correct light to bloom," 20 June 2018 Whitetop, or Hoary cress, is a very tough perennial weed that spreads by rhizomes and seeds. Margaret Lauterbach, idahostatesman, "Know the proper ways to attack all of our plentiful weeds," 1 June 2018 Dandelions are another perennial weed, sprouting from a deep taproot in early spring. Beth Botts,, "Some of the first plants to spring up after winter are weeds. Here's how to get control.," 13 Mar. 2018 Edge the bed and cultivate monthly for two seasons to eliminate this and other perennial weeds. Melinda Myers, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Tall grasses, upright shrubs provide screening," 9 Mar. 2018 There are two types of weeds appearing in our lawns now: cool-season annuals and perennial weeds that grow during the cool season. Dan Gill,, "Lawn Care 101: How to spot and treat common turf issues before spring arrives," 24 Feb. 2018 Friday’s action includes the pint-size dunk champion Nate Robinson, the perennial All-Star Jermaine O’Neal and the smooth-shooting big man Rashard Lewis. Andrew R. Chow, New York Times, "What’s on TV Friday: ‘A Very English Scandal’ and ‘Kiss Me First’," 29 June 2018 Yet, the always unsung perennial All-Star isn't even among the top five vote-getters at his position. Greg Moore, azcentral, "Moore: Diamondbacks utility player Daniel Descalso deserves to be All-Star," 26 June 2018 Known for her ambitious compositions and dazzling orchestral work, Ms. Schneider, a Minnesota native, is a five-time Grammy Award winner and a perennial presence atop the DownBeat critics poll. Giovanni Russonello, New York Times, "National Endowment for the Arts Names New Class of Jazz Masters," 11 July 2018

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

circa 1660, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for perennial

Latin perennis, from per- throughout + annus year — more at per-, annual

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Statistics for perennial

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for perennial

The first known use of perennial was circa 1660

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More Definitions for perennial



English Language Learners Definition of perennial

of a plant : living for several years or for many years : having a life cycle that is more than two years long

: existing or continuing in the same way for a long time

: happening again and again


pe·ren·ni·al | \pə-ˈre-nē-əl \

Kids Definition of perennial

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : present all through the year a perennial stream

2 : living from year to year a perennial plant

3 : never ending : constant perennial joy

4 : happening again and again perennial flooding



Kids Definition of perennial (Entry 2 of 2)

: a plant that lives from year to year


pe·ren·ni·al | \pə-ˈren-ē-əl \

Medical Definition of perennial 

: present at all seasons of the year perennial rhinitis

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Comments on perennial

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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