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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Nutile, just like his father, was a two-year starter at quarterback for New Jersey’s perennial powerhouse, Don Bosco Prep. Marc Narducci,, "It took him three years to win the starting QB job, and Temple's Frank Nutile doesn't plan to give it up," 26 June 2018 There was tension at the outset, but an overall sense of confidence as El Tri—its confidence buoyed after a stunning opening win against reigning World Champion Germany, a perennial powerhouse — took to the pitch in Russia’s Rostov Arena. Patrick J. Mcdonnell,, "In Mexico the joy continues as national team wins again in the World Cup," 24 June 2018 Muncie Fieldhouse, built in 1928 when high school basketball ruled Indiana and the Muncie Central Bearcats were a perennial powerhouse, is one of the 10 largest high school gyms in the United States. Will Higgins, Indianapolis Star, "These 10 classic, historic Indiana buildings are on borrowed time," 2 May 2018 The Chiefs' first two games in the upcoming season are in cities that are 2,426 miles apart, and one is against an AFC West opponent and the other is a perennial powerhouse. Pete Grathoff, kansascity, "National NFL writer: Schedule sets up nicely for Patrick Mahomes and Chiefs | The Kansas City Star," 25 Apr. 2018 Kielsmeier comes to Cleveland State after 10 years as the head women's basketball coach at Wayne State College (NE) - a perennial Division II powerhouse. Elton Alexander,, "Cleveland State names Chris Kielsmeier new women's basketball coach," 17 Apr. 2018 Kyle Bolden, as a true freshman out of perennial prep powerhouse Colerain High School, served a redshirt year during his first college football season at the University of Cincinnati. Scott Springer,, "Bolden ready to bash for the Bearcats," 10 Apr. 2018 The only player who found success against him was perennial All-Star Mike Trout, who was 3-for-3 with a home run. Ethan Bauer,, "Five things we learned from Saturday's Angels-Dodgers game," 8 July 2018 Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito are perennial no-shows. Richard Wolf, USA TODAY, "Skipping State of the Union is a Supreme Court tradition regardless of who's president," 29 Jan. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about perennial

Statistics for perennial

Last Updated

11 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for perennial

The first known use of perennial was circa 1660

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


by force of circumstances

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!