per·​il·​ous | \ ˈper-ə-ləs How to pronounce perilous (audio) , ˈpe-rə- \

Definition of perilous

: full of or involving peril a perilous journey

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from perilous

perilously adverb
perilousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for perilous

dangerous, hazardous, precarious, perilous, risky mean bringing or involving the chance of loss or injury. dangerous applies to something that may cause harm or loss unless dealt with carefully. soldiers on a dangerous mission hazardous implies great and continuous risk of harm or failure. claims that smoking is hazardous to your health precarious suggests both insecurity and uncertainty. earned a precarious living by gambling perilous strongly implies the immediacy of danger. perilous mountain roads risky often applies to a known and accepted danger. shied away from risky investments

Examples of perilous in a Sentence

a perilous journey across the mountains a perilous journey through hostile territory
Recent Examples on the Web However horrendous and perilous the struggles, there were men and women who accepted their responsibilities and more than met them. Globe Staff,, "The Fast Forward 2020 Winter Bookies reading list," 4 Jan. 2021 But even among older people susceptible to Covid-19, nursing homes proved uniquely perilous. Jason Douglas, WSJ, "Covid-19 Stalked Nursing Homes Around the World," 31 Dec. 2020 Without whitebarks, the West faces a more perilous future. Jim Morrison, Wired, "A Bold Plan to Save the Last Whitebark Pines," 24 Dec. 2020 The San Joaquin Valley — which has hit 0% availability in its ICUs a few times in recent days, most recently Wednesday — saw that number tick up slightly Thursday, to a still-perilous 0.7%. Los Angeles Times, "ICU availability in Southern California at 0%, and it’s going to get worse, officials warn," 17 Dec. 2020 Adult cows have passed through the most perilous portion of life for a wild elk – mortality is highest as a calf – and are in the most productive portion of their life cycle. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Hunters in Jackson County illegally killed two elk during the Wisconsin gun deer season," 29 Nov. 2020 The idea of tampering with height limits in San Diego has been a politically perilous one. Michael Smolens Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Pro-housing movement gets boost from election, approval of new guidelines," 13 Nov. 2020 How did being an environmentalist in Iran become so perilous? Frans Lanting, National Geographic, "How Iran is destroying its once thriving environmental movement," 12 Nov. 2020 For countries on Russia’s border, Trump’s views on Europe have seemed truly perilous. Vivienne Walt, Fortune, "Even if Biden wins, European leaders warn rebuilding relationships will take time," 7 Nov. 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for perilous

Middle English perilous, perelous, borrowed from Anglo-French perilleus, perillous, going back to Latin perīculōsus, from perīculum "test, risk, peril entry 1" + -ōsus -ous

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about perilous

Time Traveler for perilous

Time Traveler

The first known use of perilous was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for perilous

Last Updated

16 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Perilous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for perilous


How to pronounce perilous (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of perilous

somewhat formal + literary : full of danger


per·​il·​ous | \ ˈper-ə-ləs How to pronounce perilous (audio) \

Kids Definition of perilous

: dangerous sense 1 a perilous journey

Other Words from perilous

perilously adverb

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on perilous

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
True or False

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


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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