per·ish | \ ˈper-ish , ˈpe-rish \
perished; perishing; perishes

Definition of perish 

intransitive verb

1 : to become destroyed or ruined : cease to exist recollection of a past already long since perished —Philip Sherrard guard against your mistakes or your attempts (perish the thought) to cheat —C. B. Davis

2 chiefly British : deteriorate, spoil

transitive verb

1 chiefly British : to cause to die : destroy

2 : weaken, benumb

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Synonyms & Antonyms for perish


check out, conk (out), croak [slang], demise, depart, die, drop, end, exit, expire, fall, go, part, pass (on), pass away, succumb


breathe, live

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Examples of perish in a Sentence

Two people perished in the fire. The sailors perished at sea. The civilization perished after 500 years. Many ancient languages have perished over time. The rubber will perish with age.
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Recent Examples on the Web

But in this instance, those honored that day – 16 children in all – perished in the weeks, months and years after Allied forces liberated Nazi Germany. Emanuella Grinberg, Smithsonian, "When a Bavarian Monastery Provided a Home to Jewish Refugees," 11 July 2018 Thousands of gays were thought to have perished in Germany during the Nazi regime. Lisa J. Huriash,, "Museum documents persecution of gays in Nazi Germany," 10 July 2018 Roughly one of every six migrants who set out in traffickers’ unseaworthy boats from Libya perished at sea last month, UN refugee agency officials said on Friday. Frances D’emilio,, "UN: June saw ‘exceptional’ rate of deaths in sea off Libya," 6 July 2018 Autopsies released by Arizona authorities have confirmed that the baby and toddler found dead while strapped in their car seats in a vehicle in March perished from exposure, multiple outlets report. Greg Hanlon,, "Ariz. Baby and Toddler Found Dead in Car Seats Perished from Heat, Autopsies Say — as Mom Remains Jailed," 4 July 2018 Ten sailors were unable to escape in time and perished in the accident. Jasmine Khayami And Elizabeth Strassner, USA TODAY, "Collisions reveal a Navy tragically undone by its can-do spirit," 25 June 2018 However, German voters have dark memories of an air strike in Afghanistan in 2009, called in by their forces but executed by the Americans, in which civilians perished and their government had to compensate the bereaved. The Economist, "Germany becomes the last big Western power to buy killer robots," 23 June 2018 On Thursday evening, rescuers began running a hose toward the cavern in hopes of pumping in more air, in addition to carrying in air tanks for future use, as the diver who perished, Saman Gunan, 38, had been doing. Richard C. Paddock,, "Thai cave rescue will be a murky, desperate ordeal, divers say," 6 July 2018 The pigs had been placed there to help the researchers study what happens to the thousands of migrants who have perished in Sonoran desert. Rob O'dell, azcentral, "What dead pigs can teach us about missing bodies in the Arizona desert," 5 July 2018

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for perish

Middle English perisshen, from Anglo-French periss-, stem of perir, from Latin perire, from per- detrimentally + ire to go — more at per-, issue entry 1

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Phrases Related to perish

perish the thought

Statistics for perish

Last Updated

11 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for perish

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

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More Definitions for perish



English Language Learners Definition of perish

: to die or be killed

: to disappear or be destroyed : to cease to exist

: to slowly break apart by a natural process


per·ish | \ ˈper-ish \
perished; perishing

Kids Definition of perish

: to become destroyed : die Dinosaurs perished long ago. The language slowly perished.

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Comments on perish

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


the setting in which something occurs

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