per·​il | \ ˈper-əl How to pronounce peril (audio) , ˈpe-rəl \

Definition of peril

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : exposure to the risk of being injured, destroyed, or lost : danger fire put the city in peril
2 : something that imperils or endangers : risk lessen the perils of the streets


per·​il | \ ˈper-əl How to pronounce peril (audio) , ˈpe-rəl \
periled also perilled; periling also perilling

Definition of peril (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to expose to danger

Examples of peril in a Sentence

Noun Just last week he issued a statement encouraging all Iraqis to participate in the election scheduled for January, and he called on the Iraqi government to start registering voters. The powers that be in Iraq ignore him at their peril. — Johanna McGeary, Time, 25 Oct. 2004 One lesson of both the law-school and the Paulin controversies may be the peril of making free-speech judgments at Internet speed. — Jeffrey Toobin, New Yorker, 27 Jan. 2003 The old man rose and towered over Cameron, and then plunged down upon him, and clutched at his throat with terrible stifling hands. The harsh contact, the pain awakened Cameron to his peril before it was too late. — Zane Grey, Desert Gold, 1913 People are unaware of the peril these miners face each day. She described global warming as “a growing peril.” Verb … she did more harm than all Frederick's diplomacy could repair, and perilled her chance of her inheritance like a giddy heedless creature as she was. — William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair, 1848 a tribute to the men and women who, as firefighters, peril their lives daily See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun On the other hand, her resume (including speed figures) was more impressive than Rich Strike’s heading into Derby week, so ignore her at your peril. Childs Walker, Baltimore Sun, 15 May 2022 But Fluent didn’t provide the consumers with that option, to its peril. Jack Greiner, The Enquirer, 3 May 2022 Bevel underestimates her, and Mildred, at his peril. Los Angeles Times, 29 Apr. 2022 Then again, doubt the Nuggets — and Nikola Jokic, their do-everything center and the league’s reigning most valuable player — at your peril. New York Times, 16 Apr. 2022 The internet: Demographers ignore the impact of the World Wide Web at their peril. The Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Apr. 2022 As The Daily Wire’s chief executive sees it, to rely too much on the kindness of strangers — more specifically, on advertisers and nonprofit donors — is to do so at your peril. Andy Meek, Forbes, 9 Apr. 2022 Car buyers may be delaying any EV purchase at their peril. Danny Lee,, 28 Mar. 2022 To the bald eagle, le coq, and bulldog: believe differently at your peril. A. Craig Copetas, Quartz, 4 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But wandering in those spacious landscapes can also lead to peril. Robert Gauthier, Los Angeles Times, 15 Apr. 2022 Therapy empowers us to thoroughly and critically examine our habits and actions to determine what will lead to prosperity and what will lead to peril. Brianna Carter, SPIN, 23 Mar. 2022 But there’s another piece that should factor in to the decision: a home’s vulnerability to peril. Washington Post, 4 Jan. 2022 November's warm gloom brought unusual blooms and peril to Twin Cities lakes and waterways. Rochelle Olson, Star Tribune, 26 Nov. 2020 The bulwarks of a literary canon are usually about big ideas like love and war, crime and punishment, the nature of art, or the promise—and peril—of human ambition. Danny Heitman, WSJ, 2 Oct. 2020 More inexperienced skiers on the trails could lead to peril. Cara Korte, CBS News, 24 Sep. 2020 Communities along the coast have long dealt with crumbling cliffs for their danger to life and peril to property. Teri Figueroa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 Aug. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'peril.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of peril


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1567, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for peril


Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, going back to Latin perīculum "test, trial, risk, danger," going back to *perei-tlom, from *perei- (of uncertain origin) + *-tlom, instrumental suffix (going back to Indo-European)

Note: Latin perīculum has traditionally been explained as a derivative from a proposed Indo-European verbal base *per- "test, risk," seen also in perītus "practiced, experienced," experior, experīrī "to put to the test, attempt, have experience of, undergo" (see experience entry 1) and opperior, opperīrī "to wait, wait for"; these have been compared with Greek peîra "trial, attempt, experience," peiráomai, peirâsthai "to make a trial of, attempt," émpeiros "experienced" (see empiric)—going back to *per-i̯a—and more tentatively with Germanic *fērō "pursuit, danger" (see fear entry 2). This *per- "test, risk" is then taken further as a semantic derivative of *per- "cross, pass" (see fare entry 1). Alternatively, if the formative -i- represents the Indo-European present-tense suffix *-ei̯-/-i-, Latin peri-/perī- in these words fits naturally with Indo-European *perh3-/pr̥h3- "bring forth, give rise to, produce" (if taken as a middle verb "give rise to within oneself, experience, undergo"), with *pr̥h3-i- yielding Latin pariō, parere "to give birth to" (see parturient entry 1) and *perh3-ei̯- yielding the per-ī- of perīculum, etc. It is unclear if the base of experior and opperior contains par- or per-, as the simplex verb is not attested. (Cf. Michiel de Vaan, "PIE i-presents, s-presents, and their reflexes in Latin," Glotta, Band 87 [2011], pp. 23-36.)


derivative of peril entry 1

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The first known use of peril was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

25 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Peril.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for peril


per·​il | \ ˈper-əl How to pronounce peril (audio) \

Kids Definition of peril

1 : the state of being in great danger The storm put our ship in peril.
2 : a cause or source of danger the perils of skydiving


per·​il | \ ˈper-əl How to pronounce peril (audio) \

Legal Definition of peril

1 : exposure to the risk of death, destruction, or loss
2 : the cause of a loss (as of property) insured their home against fire, floods, and other perils — compare risk

More from Merriam-Webster on peril

Nglish: Translation of peril for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of peril for Arabic Speakers


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