per·​pet·​u·​al pər-ˈpe-chə-wəl How to pronounce perpetual (audio)
: continuing forever : everlasting
perpetual motion
: valid for all time
a perpetual right
: holding something (such as an office) for life or for an unlimited time
: occurring continually : indefinitely long-continued
perpetual problems
: blooming continuously throughout the season
Choose the Right Synonym for perpetual

continual, continuous, constant, incessant, perpetual, perennial mean characterized by continued occurrence or recurrence.

continual often implies a close prolonged succession or recurrence.

continual showers the whole weekend

continuous usually implies an uninterrupted flow or spatial extension.

football's oldest continuous rivalry

constant implies uniform or persistent occurrence or recurrence.

lived in constant pain

incessant implies ceaseless or uninterrupted activity.

annoyed by the incessant quarreling

perpetual suggests unfailing repetition or lasting duration.

a land of perpetual snowfall

perennial implies enduring existence often through constant renewal.

a perennial source of controversy

Examples of perpetual in a Sentence

As always, I was struck by how the core values of the military—service and discipline, both physical and intellectual—are so different from the perpetual American Mardi Gras. Joe Klein, Time, 29 Aug. 2005
Because Hunter had been a perpetual Peter Pan, accepting the bleak reality of his death came hard. Douglas Brinkley, Rolling Stone, 22 Sept. 2005
He's addicted to the perpetual flux of the information networks. He craves his next data fix. He's a speed freak, an info junkie. David Brooks, Newsweek, 30 Apr. 2001
Only after I had built to the emotional peroration culminating in the word "astonishing" was I at last sufficiently unastonished by the force of my feelings to be able to put together a couple of hours of sleep—or something resembling sleep, for, even half out of it, I was a biography in perpetual motion, memory to the marrow of my bones. Philip Roth, American Pastoral, 1997
The region is in a state of perpetual war. He seems to have a perpetual grin on his face. the perpetual demands of parenthood See More
Recent Examples on the Web Drake — who is in a perpetual Billboard chart horse race with Swift over the most Hot 100 hits crown — released his most recent album, For All the Dogs, on Oct. 6, three weeks before Swift released her 1989 (Taylor’s Version), the latest in her series of catalog re-records. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, 17 Nov. 2023 Take for example how the opening symphony of urban noises and sights paints the picture of a chaotic metropolis in perpetual disarray. Carlos Aguilar, Variety, 16 Nov. 2023 So Payne, the former director of conservation for land protection for wetlands conservation nonprofit Ducks Unlimited, helped set up a structure in which the University of Florida owned the land, but Ducks Unlimited assured its perpetual conservation by enforcing its conservation easement. Jemima McEvoy, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 Veterans can be buried with military honors such as a gun salute, the presentation and handover of the American flag, and perpetual care – all at no cost to the family. Cara Tabachnick, CBS News, 11 Nov. 2023 Black women have entered their perpetual soft era, and are inviting you to join them in joyful well-restedness. Amara Amaryah, Essence, 8 Nov. 2023 The world could learn many lessons from the Irish, particularly in human wastelands like United Nations’ perpetual Palestinian refugee camps. WSJ, 8 Nov. 2023 New Knowledge Cutoff Say goodbye to the perpetual reminder from ChatGPT that its information cutoff date is restricted to September 2021. WIRED, 7 Nov. 2023 The scientists suspect the balmy climate in the caterpillar’s home acts like a perpetual fever, suppressing the male-killing effect. Elizabeth Anne Brown, New York Times, 6 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'perpetual.' 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 perpetuel, from Anglo-French, from Latin perpetuus uninterrupted, from per- through + petere to go to — more at feather

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of perpetual was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near perpetual

Cite this Entry

“Perpetual.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


per·​pet·​u·​al pər-ˈpech-(ə-)wəl How to pronounce perpetual (audio)
: continuing forever : everlasting
: occurring continually : constant

More from Merriam-Webster on perpetual

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