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

But also, a guy like perennial candidate Greg Orman could stop running vanity statewide races in Kansas and win a House seat. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Proportional representation could save America," 15 Oct. 2018 But that year’s ballot also featured a perennial candidate on the populist left, running under the Independence Party, who took 8%. Kyle Peterson, WSJ, "Minnesota Is a House Divided on Trump," 14 Sep. 2018 In that race, nonprofit agency director Kendra Horn defeated retired college professor and perennial candidate Tom Guild in Tuesday’s runoff. Sean Murphy, The Seattle Times, "Tulsa restaurateur wins GOP nod in Oklahoma House race," 28 Aug. 2018 In the Republican primary, perennial candidate H. Brooke Paige held a narrow lead over real estate broker Lawrence Zupan with 83 percent of precincts reporting. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "Leah Vukmir projected to win Wisconsin GOP Senate primary, face Baldwin in November," 14 Aug. 2018 The perennial candidate, who spent two years in federal prison for not paying his taxes, has been endorsed by the Republican Party in his bid for the state House in North Philly’s 181st District. Chris Brennan,, "Nancy Pelosi pals around with convicted tax dodger at Dems fundraiser in Philly," 13 July 2018 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

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

25 Nov 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

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to enclose within walls

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