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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Headey's iconic villain finally met her end in this week's episode, perishing with her brother Jaime in the Red Keep under falling rubble during Daenerys Targaryen's (Emilia Clarke) massacre of King's Landing. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Lena Headey Responds to Cersei's Big Moment with the Perfect Instagram Tribute," 14 May 2019 In Red Sky in Mourning, Oldham describes coming to from her head injuries after the storm and realizing instantly that Sharp had perished. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "Shailene Woodley discusses 'Adrift' and that shocking, true twist (spoilers!)," 3 June 2018 The group knows that some of those 427 may have perished in the flames. Kevin Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle, "The quest to save feline fire refugees: Rescuers stalk burned-out Santa Rosa zone," 30 May 2018 Almost everyone else in her family had perished in the Holocaust, some 200 people by her count: parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins. John Wilkens,, "Gussie Zaks, 92, spent decades sharing Holocaust experiences with students and others," 18 Apr. 2018 Over the weekend, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced that one person had died after using synthetic cannabinoid products, but on Monday the state agency announced that a second person had also perished. Elvia Malagon,, "Synthetic pot leaves 2 dead and dozens hospitalized in Chicago area, central Illinois," 2 Apr. 2018 One reflects on their goodness when in graveyards in places such as Vicksburg, Memphis, Mobile and Savannah and reads the gravestones that sister so and so perished in the epidemic of a certain date. ... John Adam Moreau, WSJ, "The Nuns Modeled Selfless Service After Civil War, Too," 2 May 2019 While all this is happening, Toby is secretly recreating the toy football stadium that perished in the Pearson fire. Candice Frederick, Harper's BAZAAR, "This is Us Season 3 Episode 10: Randall Wins the Race as He and Beth Reach an Impasse," 16 Jan. 2019 The melodies and memories remain; the buildings often perish. John Petkovic,, "Cleveland rock 'n' roll landmarks that made history: a tour (photos)," 13 Apr. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about perish

Statistics for perish

Last Updated

22 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for perish

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


a tendency to relapse

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!