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)

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Other Words from peripheral


peripherally adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for peripheral

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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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

Adjective 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Under Benjamin, Nuance has narrowed its focus and separated peripheral businesses, such as Cerence Inc., the automotive AI unit that was spun off two years ago. Liana Baker, Fortune, "Microsoft looks to buy Siri developer Nuance, betting on health-care AI," 12 Apr. 2021 The brand was able to achieve this thinness thanks to a 22-karat gold peripheral oscillating weight. Roberta Naas, Forbes, "Vacheron Constantin Unveils High Complication Watches At Watches & Wonders Geneva 2021," 7 Apr. 2021 Communist theoreticians long debated the role that nationalities should play in the march toward utopia—especially in peripheral societies that were not fully industrialized. Raffi Khatchadourian, The New Yorker, "Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang," 5 Apr. 2021 The hands, fittingly shaped like Imperial Star Destroyers, have been affixed to a peripheral display that also orbits 360 degrees around the tourbillon. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, "This $150,000 ‘Star Wars’ Death Star Tourbillon Is Here to Welcome You to the Dark Side," 26 Mar. 2021 In short, after a year in quarantine, Taylor needs the outlet, his touring unit and peripheral crew need the income, and his fans deserve the escape. Jason Newman, Rolling Stone, "Slipknot’s Corey Taylor: Why I’m Ready to Go Back on Tour This Spring," 18 Mar. 2021 It was reported that multiple peripheral buildings were involved in the blast. CBS News, "Massive fireworks explosion kills 2 people and a dog in Southern California," 17 Mar. 2021 Apartment buildings in peripheral neighborhoods such as the North Loop and Mill District are less likely to be less affected. Dee Depass, Star Tribune, "Target move 'causing heartburn to property managers and owners'," 11 Mar. 2021 Users who are looking to charge numerous peripheral devices and enjoy the benefits of surge protection won’t have to skimp on normal three-pronged outlets with this Anker Power Strip and Surge Protector. Popular Science, "Best surge protector: For safe charging and tech use," 9 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Aquapolis came from that weird e-Card era of the Pokémon Trading Card game, where cards could be scanned into the e-Reader peripheral for the Gameboy Advance. Joe Parlock, Forbes, "The Top 10 Most Valuable Pokémon TCG Cards (That You Might Actually Own)," 5 Mar. 2021 The main downside to this is price: $299 is frankly a bonkers price for a keyboard peripheral. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro mini-review: A vast improvement," 30 May 2020 Further Reading iPadOS review: The iPad is dead, long live the iPad The latest product of that particular effort is the introduction of the Magic Keyboard peripheral from the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro mini-review: A vast improvement," 30 May 2020 The vector is a familiar one: the Thunderbolt ultrafast interface connects graphics cards, storage systems, and other peripherals to millions of computers. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Thunderspy: What it is, why it’s not scary, and what to do about it," 12 May 2020 In fact, many Thunderbolt peripherals made before 2019 are incompatible with Kernel DMA Protection. Andy Greenberg, Wired, "Thunderbolt Flaws Expose Millions of PCs to Hands-On Hacking," 10 May 2020 Tying them to displays and other peripherals will be the Surface Dock 3 and the Microsoft USB-C Travel Hub. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft launches Surface Book 3 and Surface Go 2, a new Surface Dock and Surface Headphones 2," 6 May 2020 Like the original console, the TG-16M ships with support for five-player modes, though these require peripherals from Hori (who co-developed this system). Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "TurboGrafx-16 Mini review: Mostly best-in-class retro gaming, sometimes WTF," 15 Apr. 2020 Larger services like Microsoft's Azure Sphere are also exploring ways to extend more comprehensive encryption to peripherals and IoT devices. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, "An Open Source Bid to Encrypt the Internet of Things," 20 Jan. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of peripheral


1808, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1966, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for peripheral

Time Traveler

The first known use of peripheral was in 1808

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Statistics for peripheral

Last Updated

15 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Peripheral.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2021.

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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 peripheral (audio) \ adverb

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Comments on peripheral

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