per·​ish | \ ˈper-ish How to pronounce perish (audio) , 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], decease, demise, depart, die, drop, end, exit, expire, fall, flatline, go, kick in [slang], kick off [slang], part, pass (on), pass away, peg out [chiefly British], pop off, step out, 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

The event honors the first responders who perished in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Sara Cline,, "San Antonio, area first responders climb Tower of the Americas to honor 9/11 victims," 11 Sep. 2019 The tanks and ponds within that forest began to boil; the fishes and the tortoises in them all perished. Girish Shahane, Quartz India, "The Amazon fires have a 3,000-year-old parallel in the Indian epic Mahabharata," 30 Aug. 2019 Two Los Angeles County firefighters perished in the ANF on Aug. 30, the fourth day of the conflagration. Carol Cormaci, La Cañada Valley Sun, "La Cañada History: 2009 Station fire threatens LCF homes, forces evacuations," 26 Aug. 2019 It was named for the French Enlightenment philosopher and mathematician Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, marquis of Condorcet, an advocate of democratic reforms who perished in 1794, a victim of the French Revolution. Alexander Strang, The Conversation, "Math explains why the Democrats may have trouble picking a candidate," 20 June 2019 Advertising Both Ride the Ducks International and its Seattle franchisee were found liable in a massive lawsuit in which jurors awarded $123 million to survivors of the crash and the families of those who perished. Christine Clarridge, The Seattle Times, "Local Ride the Ducks franchise sues parent company, saying vehicle maker didn’t properly address defect that caused 2015 fatal crash in Seattle," 11 Sep. 2019 As in years prior, the grimly unlucky and the overly egotistical will perish; their bodies, frozen solid as monuments, left on the mountain as gruesome harbingers of next year’s mistakes. Mark Jenkins, Outside Online, "How to Fix Everest," 20 June 2019 Death can come to a migrant in many ways—perishing from heatstroke in the Libyan desert, freezing in the mountains of Bulgaria, suffocating in an overstuffed truck in Hungary, or being executed by a smuggler as punishment for moving too slowly. Matthew Wolfe, Harper's magazine, "Without a Trace," 10 Feb. 2019 Brown said a majority of those who perished were from Santa Cruz, San Jose and the Bay Area. Rachel Desantis,, "33 Bodies Recovered, 1 Missing in Tragic Calif. Diving Boat Fire as Families Mourn Victims," 4 Sep. 2019

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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Statistics for perish

Last Updated

9 Oct 2019

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

formal + literary : to die or be killed
formal : to disappear or be destroyed : to cease to exist
British : to slowly break apart by a natural process


per·​ish | \ ˈper-ish How to pronounce perish (audio) \
perished; perishing

Kids Definition of perish

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on perish

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with perish

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for perish

Spanish Central: Translation of perish

Nglish: Translation of perish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of perish for Arabic Speakers

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