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 Mariana, Jirka, and Petříček all perished in Auschwitz. Zuzana Justman, The New Yorker, "My Terezín Diary," 9 Sep. 2019 After all, more than 3 million German soldiers perished on the Eastern Front in World War II. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "The Ghosts of World War II," 5 Sep. 2019 Nicole Quitasol perished in the blaze, which claimed the lives of 33 others. Greg Moran, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Coronado bartender among victims in diving boat fire," 3 Sep. 2019 Brent Helms, the attorney who filed the wrongful-death suit on a contingency basis, said that case law had already established personhood for fetuses who perish at the hands of reckless people, such as drunken drivers or domestic abusers. Farah Stockman, New York Times, "Alabamians Defend Arrest of Woman Whose Fetus Died in Shooting," 30 June 2019 Tonight on Game of Thrones, viewers saw an innocent fan favorite perish at the hands of the merciless queen: Missandei, one of Daenerys Targaryen's most trusted advisors and the love of Grey Worm's life. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "WTF Just Happened to Missandei on Game of Thrones?!," 6 May 2019 Eighty-five people perished, and nearly 20,000 structures were destroyed. Matt Simon, WIRED, "New IPCC Report Shows How Our Abuse of Land Drives Climate Change," 8 Aug. 2019 Of those who died, most were young men and women, but 21 entire families perished. Rick Kogan,, "New film remembers the SS Eastland and the day 844 died in the Chicago River," 17 July 2019 Any remaining thoughts that President Donald Trump has been playing three-dimensional chess while everyone else around him is engaged in less sophisticated pursuits should perish with his sudden abandonment of tariff threats against Mexico. Timothy L. O'brien, The Denver Post, "O’Brien: Donald Trump’s failures — like his abandoned tariffs on Mexico — make him even more dangerous," 10 June 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

6 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for perish

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

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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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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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