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



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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 Black people in California are more likely to perish from heat than those of any other race, and people over 65 are also at significant risk. Matt Hamilton, Los Angeles Times, 8 Oct. 2021 Pelletreau, of the University of Maine, collaborated on prior work showing that E. chlorotica in particular seem to be totally dependent on chloroplasts; without them, the plant wannabes simply perish in their youth. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 28 Sep. 2021 There’s always a possibility that one of the other Spider-Man heroes will perish while battling the villains. Chris Smith, BGR, 26 Sep. 2021 One of the perverse aspects of film preservation is that so many valuable artifacts are allowed to perish, while considerable effort and expense are spent salvaging those fragments that fall into the right hands. Peter Debruge, Variety, 21 Sep. 2021 When the male-ocalypse hits, the President of the United States is among the billions to start bleeding profusely from the mouth and then, almost instantly, perish. Judy Berman, Time, 8 Sep. 2021 And, because their population is so small, scientists can identify which ones perish; each whale has unique markers and a moniker (including Popcorn, Sundog, and Tusk). Priya Shukla, Forbes, 3 Sep. 2021 Bell explores all the tenets of the academic mystery — the pressure to publish or perish to gain tenure, thinly veiled jealousy over a colleague’s success, backbiting and gossip as currency. Oline H. Cogdill,, 9 Aug. 2021 The need for diversity of space to accommodate the consumerization of office space will drive building owners to evolve and adapt — or perish. Joe Brady, Forbes, 25 May 2021

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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Time Traveler for perish

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

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Statistics for perish

Last Updated

11 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Perish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Oct. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce perish (audio) \
perished; perishing

Kids Definition of perish

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

More from Merriam-Webster on perish

Nglish: Translation of perish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of perish for Arabic Speakers


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