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

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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 Ultimately, few of the cut varsity teams will actually perish. Tom Farrey, New York Times, "Colleges Are Cutting Varsity Sports. That Could Be a Good Thing.," 13 Oct. 2020 Foolhardy animals perish, but overly trepidatious individuals can likewise fail to pass on their genes, because of starvation, stress, and isolation. Rebecca Giggs, The Atlantic, "Why We’re Afraid of Bats," 5 Oct. 2020 And if two doses of the vaccine are needed—a likely scenario, according to experts—nearly half a million sharks will perish. Rasha Aridi, Smithsonian Magazine, "500,000 Sharks Could Be Killed in the Race to Produce a Covid-19 Vaccine," 5 Oct. 2020 Her daughter was named in honor of Lynch’s fallen friend, Lori Ann Piestewa, who died in hospital after being rescued following the same ambush, and became the first woman to perish in the Iraq War. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "Former Iraq POW Jessica Lynch on what helps her thrive after captivity: 'Every day is a constant reminder'," 22 Sep. 2020 This fact—combined with how the game's dangerous elements can wipe an entire run in an instant—forces players into Spelunky 2's brutal reality: get your act together, or perish. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Spelunky 2 game review: Roguelike perfection," 19 Sep. 2020 Aside from the main character of Arvin Russell (Tom Holland), all of the other major characters perish, mostly in gruesome ways and often at the hands of another character. Lia Beck,, "Untangling The Murky Morals & Open Ending Of The Devil All The Time," 17 Sep. 2020 By the end of the month, 6,954 civilians would perish. Joseph Loconte, National Review, "Churchill, the Blitz, and Moral Leadership," 9 Sep. 2020 Animals that are left behind in wildfires typically perish. Aidin Vaziri,, "California fires: How to evacuate safely with your pets," 27 Aug. 2020

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for perish

Last Updated

22 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Perish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

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How to pronounce perish (audio)

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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