adjective (1)
\ˈpərs \

Definition of perse 

(Entry 1 of 4)

: of a dark grayish blue resembling indigo

per se

\(ˌ)pər-ˈsā also per-ˈsā or (ˌ)pər-ˈsē \

Definition of per se (Entry 2 of 4)

: by, of, or in itself or oneself or themselves : as such : intrinsically

per se

adjective (2)

Definition of per se (Entry 3 of 4)

: being such inherently, clearly, or as a matter of law a per se conflict of interest


biographical name

Definition of Perse (Entry 4 of 4)

St. John — see Aléxis Saint-Léger léger

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We generally use per se to distinguish between something in its narrow sense and some larger thing that it represents. Thus, you may have no objection to educational testing per se, but rather to the way testing is done. An opposition party may attack a president's policy not because they dislike the policy per se but because they want to weaken the president. And when New York's police chief decided to crack down on small crimes, it wasn't the small crimes per se that were his target, but instead the larger crimes which he believed would be reduced because of this new approach.

Examples of perse in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

And more importantly, as many people have started tying their own identities more closely not just to politics per se but to one of the two major political parties, election night really can feel like a glimpse into the national soul. Dara Lind, Vox, "America’s love-hate relationship with the New York Times election needle, explained," 6 Nov. 2018 Although there was nothing spooky, per se, about this utter astronomical delight, let it be known that Reinhart and Sprouse were ready for anything and everything, up to and including the end of the world (hey, better safe than sorry). Samantha Leach, Glamour, "Lili Reinhart Watched Friday's 'Blood Moon' With Rumored Boyfriend Cole Sprouse—and Chronicled Every Last Minute," 28 July 2018 Where most French houses rely on agencies to supply them, per se, with a diverse lineup of models for their shows, agencies will tell you there isn't enough money in haute couture worth sending models to Paris for., "A Jolt Of Diversity At Haute Couture — & Why It Matters," 6 July 2018 That description isn’t inaccurate per se, at least for the current iteration of the travel ban. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Should Trump’s Bigotry Disqualify His Travel Ban?," 25 Apr. 2018 There may be not even be a conscious decision to join per se. Julie Chernov Hwang, Washington Post, "New research shows why terrorists quit terrorism," 12 July 2018 Most weeks, both chambers only hold votes from Tuesday to Thursday, so lack of time per se does not seem to be a constraint on either chamber. Gregory Koger, Vox, "The job of Congress: a primer," 17 Apr. 2018 Montana doesn't require any Medicaid recipients to work per se. Julia O'donoghue,, "'No timeline' for Medicaid work requirements, state says," 9 Apr. 2018 But developing a vaccine against all strains is not only vital to reduce the suffering from a pandemic per se. Scientific American, "Readers Respond to the February 2018 Issue," 2 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'perse.' 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 perse

Adjective (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined above


1574, in the meaning defined above

Adjective (2)

circa 1655, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for perse

Adjective (1)

Middle English pers, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin persus



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Dictionary Entries near perse


per saltum



per se



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Time Traveler for perse

The first known use of perse was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for perse

per se


English Language Learners Definition of per se

: by, of, or in itself

per se

\pər-ˈsā, ˌper-; pər-ˈsē \

Legal Definition of per se 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : inherently, strictly, or by operation of statute, constitutional provision or doctrine, or case law the transaction was illegal per se — see also negligence per se at negligence, nuisance per se at nuisance

2 : without proof of special damages or reference to extrinsic circumstances defamatory statements that were actionable per se — compare per quod

per se


Legal Definition of per se (Entry 2 of 2)

: being such inherently, clearly, or by operation of statute, constitutional provision or doctrine, or case law it is clear that licensing of adult entertainment establishments is not a per se violation of the First AmendmentClub Southern Burlesque, Inc. v. City of Carrollton, 457 S.E.2d 816 (1995) a per se conflict of interest

History and Etymology for perse


Latin, by, of, or in itself

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What made you want to look up perse? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


by force of circumstances

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