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

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 For three of those seasons, James teamed with Kyrie Irving, a perennial All-Star, to form one of the league’s most fearsome duos. Scott Cacciola, New York Times, "The N.B.A.’s Decider: How LeBron James Controls Fortunes," 29 June 2018 Favorites to win it all in 2018 include perennial powerhouses Brazil, France, Germany and Spain are early favorites. Thom Craver, CBS News, "2018 FIFA World Cup: How to watch every team, every game," 17 June 2018 In Russia, Adidas is sponsoring 12 of the 32 teams, including perennial powerhouses Argentina, Spain and Germany, with arch-rival Nike (nke, -0.22%) supplying 10 teams including Brazil, Portugal and France. Bloomberg, Fortune, "How to Bet on World Cup 2018—In the Stock Market," 14 June 2018 Aside from a season-opening loss to Howard, a perennial Class 4A regional champion, Marriotts Ridge’s other loss this season came to Glenelg midway through the season. Kyle Stackpole, Howard County Times, "Marriotts Ridge boys lacrosse outlasts Kent Island, moves on to first-ever state final," 20 May 2018 The Bluebirds were the top public-school team, finishing only behind perennial champion St. Xavier (which won its 30th straight) and Lexington Catholic. James Weber,, "Announcing the 2017-2018 Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky High School Winter All-Stars," 2 May 2018 Our first-round opponent was Birmingham Brother Rice, a large private school and perennial sports powerhouse. Brad Stulberg, Outside Online, "Want to Perform Better? Play to Win.," 30 Apr. 2018 Laura O’ Leary was traveling in Alaska when her North Harford High School students won last year’s Harford County Envirothon competition, the first public school to win in a decade in an upset of perennial powerhouse Harford Christian School. David Anderson, The Aegis, "North Harford High notches a repeat win in Harford Envirothon," 13 Apr. 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

Listen to Our Podcast about perennial

Statistics for perennial

Last Updated

16 Sep 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).


alleviating pain or harshness

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


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!