pe·​riph·​er·​al | \ pə-ˈri-f(ə-)rəl How to pronounce peripheral (audio) \

Definition of peripheral

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, involving, or forming a periphery or surface part
2a : of, relating to, affecting, or being part of the peripheral nervous system peripheral nerves peripheral neuritis
b : of, relating to, or being blood in the systemic circulation peripheral lymphocytes
3 : of, relating to, or being the outer part of the field of vision good peripheral vision
4 : auxiliary, supplementary peripheral equipment also : of or relating to computer peripherals



Definition of peripheral (Entry 2 of 2)

: a device connected to a computer to provide communication (such as input and output) or auxiliary functions (such as additional storage)

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from peripheral


peripherally adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for peripheral

Synonyms: Adjective

accessorial, accessory, appurtenant, auxiliary, supplemental, supplementary

Antonyms: Adjective

chief, main, principal

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did You Know?

Your peripheral vision is the outer area of your field of vision, where you can still detect movement and shapes. It can be very valuable when, for instance, you're driving into Chicago at rush hour, especially when switching lanes. When people call an issue in a discussion peripheral, they mean that it's not of primary importance, and they're probably suggesting that everyone get back to the main topic. Peripheral is now also a noun: computer peripherals are the added components—printers, webcams, microphones, etc.—that increase a computer's capacities.

Examples of peripheral in a Sentence


If we focus too much on peripheral issues, we will lose sight of the goal. peripheral devices such as modems and scanners He saw in his peripheral vision that a car was trying to pass him.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Whose precipitous shoulder pads impaired their peripheral vision? Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "Who Wore the Biggest Shoulders at the 2019 Met Gala? An Investigation," 7 May 2019 Some federal programs provide funding to help local governments get people to work in peripheral and rural locations. Erica E. Phillips, WSJ, "Retail’s New E-Commerce Headache: Delivering Workers to Warehouses," 12 Oct. 2018 Art world power players were descending upon the city for Art Basel Hong Kong and so, too, were the revelers who enjoy all of the fair’s peripheral celebrations. Zachary Weiss, Vogue, "Pharrell and Michelle Yeoh Attend amfAR’s Hong Kong Gala, Held at the City’s Glitzy New Rosewood Hotel," 26 Mar. 2019 Epic laid out a lengthy road map for the store and peripheral features. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "The Epic Games Store won't always push for exclusives 'at this scale'," 21 Mar. 2019 For this new project in Abu Dhabi, HyperloopTT received an investment from international design group Dar Al-Handasah, which will help build the HyperloopTT commercial track and peripheral buildings. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Hyperloop startup says construction on Abu Dhabi track will commence in Q3 2019," 27 Oct. 2018 The thicker the stack of goggles, the safer the ride and the worse the peripheral vision. Jonas Shaffer,, "For jockeys, goggles are a necessary shield against horse racing's nastier elements," 19 May 2018 Beyond leading roles, there’s also a battle for the scores of background roles in every film or show that are peripheral to the story. Jocelyn Noveck, The Seattle Times, "Transgender Hollywood seeks recognition, and not just roles," 7 Aug. 2018 Singaporean star Han is one of the many Asian actors who populate the film, which is clearly fashioned to appeal as much to Chinese filmgoers as American ones, though their roles are largely peripheral. Jake Coyle, Detroit Free Press, "Review: ‘Skyscraper’ delivers stunts, dumb summer fun," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Titan Ridge actually came out earlier last year, but the chipsets are still relatively rare in peripherals and laptops. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "Razer's Core X Chroma eGPU cabinet features RGB and Intel's latest Thunderbolt 3 controller," 16 Apr. 2019 First, of course, your PC must be running the latest Insider builds (not 18356, but 18335 or higher is recommended), and include a Bluetooth radio that supports low energy peripheral technology. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Android phone mirroring arrives in new Windows 10 preview build 18356," 13 Mar. 2019 About 450 peripherals have also been designed around Thunderbolt, Intel said. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "The new USB4 spec promises a lot: Thunderbolt 3 support, 40Gbps bandwidth, and less confusion," 5 Mar. 2019 Corsair One: Gamers know Corsair’s peripherals—keyboards, cases, headsets, fans. Alexander George, Popular Mechanics, "How To Get Into the High-Powered World of Gaming PCs," 20 Sep. 2018 To help adjust, a whole industry of charging peripherals have grown up with smartphones, offering power hungry users extra juice to get through their day. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Power Up With RavPower's Discounted Chargers and Power Banks," 26 Feb. 2019 Wide-eyed Coco (Natalia Dyer) and bitter Bryson (Billy Magnussen) remain on the peripheral, watching the art world devour itself and trying in vain to find their entry point while remaining unscathed. Candice Frederick, Harper's BAZAAR, "Netflix's Velvet Buzzsaw Shouldn't Work—But It (Mostly) Does," 3 Feb. 2019 If our eyes don’t deceive us, the new peripheral is a far cry from Razer’s previous couch keyboard effort for microconsoles and Steam Machines. Stefan Etienne, The Verge, "Razer teases first Xbox One mouse and keyboard," 17 Dec. 2018 Those sorts of issues, which were once peripheral as Facebook’s growth powered ahead, are now central to the company’s business prospects. Georgia Wells, WSJ, "Facebook Begins New Year in Fixer-Upper Mode," 3 Jan. 2019

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


1808, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1966, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about peripheral

Statistics for peripheral

Last Updated

25 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for peripheral

The first known use of peripheral was in 1808

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for peripheral



English Language Learners Definition of peripheral

 (Entry 1 of 2)

formal : not relating to the main or most important part
computers : connected to a computer but not an essential part of it
: of or relating to the area that is to the side of the area you are looking at



English Language Learners Definition of peripheral (Entry 2 of 2)

computers : a piece of equipment (such as a printer, speaker, etc.) that is connected to a computer but is not an essential part of it


pe·​riph·​er·​al | \ pə-ˈrif-(ə-)rəl How to pronounce peripheral (audio) \

Medical Definition of peripheral

1 : of, relating to, involving, forming, or located near a periphery or surface part (as of the body)
2 : of, relating to, affecting, or being part of the peripheral nervous system peripheral nerves
3 : of, relating to, or being the outer part of the visual field good peripheral vision
4 : of, relating to, or being blood in the systemic circulation peripheral lymphocytes peripheral blood

Other Words from peripheral

peripherally \ -​ē How to pronounce peripherally (audio) \ adverb

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on peripheral

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


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!