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

intransitive verb

: to become destroyed or ruined : cease to exist
recollection of a past already long since perishedPhilip Sherrard
guard against your mistakes or your attempts (perish the thought) to cheatC. B. Davis
chiefly British : deteriorate, spoil

transitive verb

chiefly British : to cause to die : destroy

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Another 16-year-old worker also perished last summer after getting caught in a machine at a poultry plant in Mississippi. Kate Gibson, CBS News, 31 May 2024 Too many cops perish when addressing domestic violence issues. Reader Commentary, Baltimore Sun, 20 Feb. 2024 Three people, including a 6-year-old, perished after an Amtrak train hurtled into their car in upstate New York on Friday night. Christina Coulter, Fox News, 20 May 2024 It was said that some of Alexander’s troops perished after using oleander skewers to cook their meat. Joshua Hammer, Smithsonian Magazine, 15 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for perish 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'perish.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near perish

Cite this Entry

“Perish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


per·​ish ˈper-ish How to pronounce perish (audio)
: to pass away completely : become destroyed

More from Merriam-Webster on perish

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