perseverate

verb
per·​sev·​er·​ate | \ pər-ˈse-və-ˌrāt How to pronounce perseverate (audio) \
perseverated; perseverating; perseverates

Definition of perseverate

intransitive verb

1a : to recur or repeat continually We call such tunes 'catchy'—and they are sometimes referred to as 'earworms,' for they may burrow into us, entrench themselves and then perseverate internally hundreds of times a day, only to evaporate, fade away, in a day or two …— Oliver Sacks
b : to intently focus one's attention on a thought or thoughts : fixate Lest she be misinterpreted, Hard is not an old-timer perseverating on the good old days and bitter about not getting some of that big money.— Bill Dwyre According to a variety of medical Web sites and publications, people who never smoke, … who exercise and don't perseverate about past wrongs and future ills are happier and healthier and live longer.— Brian McKenzie
2 psychology : to have or display an involuntary repetitive behavior or thought : to exhibit perseveration Any person … whose social skills have been severely deficient since very early childhood, who started to talk late or whose communicative use of language is inadequate, and who perseverates and lacks cognitive and behavioral flexibility meets the diagnostic criteria for an autistic-spectrum disorder.— Isabelle Rapin

Other Words from perseverate

perseverative \ pər-​ˈse-​və-​ˌrā-​tiv How to pronounce perseverate (audio) \ adjective
perseverative behavior perseverative thought patterns

Did you know?

Looking at perseverate and perseveration, you may guess that the latter was formed by adding a suffix to the former, but that is not the case. Perseveration is actually the older term. It has been around since the 1500s, when it was used as a synonym of perseverance (which at one time was pronounced, like perseverate and perseveration, with the stress on sev, instead of on ver). In the early 1900s, psychologists adopted perseveration for the act of repeating a behavior over and over again—for instance, continually repeating the same syllable or word might be called "verbal perseveration." Shortly afterward, those scientists wanted a verb for such acts of repetition, so they changed the -tion of perseveration to -ate and perseverate was born.

First Known Use of perseverate

1912, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for perseverate

back-formation from perseveration

Learn More About perseverate

Time Traveler for perseverate

Time Traveler

The first known use of perseverate was in 1912

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About perseverate

Dictionary Entries Near perseverate

perseverant

perseverate

perseveration

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for perseverate

Last Updated

14 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Perseverate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perseverate. Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for perseverate

perseverate

intransitive verb
per·​sev·​er·​ate | \ pər-ˈsev-ə-ˌrāt How to pronounce perseverate (audio) \
perseverated; perseverating; perseverates

Medical Definition of perseverate

: to have or display an involuntary repetitive behavior or thought : to exhibit perseveration People with autism tend to perseverate on physical objects, such as flicking light switches or spinning objects like bicycle wheels. Individuals with Asperger's, however, tend to perseverate on intellectual matters, such as mass transit schedules, dinosaurs, geology, or whatever else catches their fancy.— Steven Shore, Intervention in School and Clinic

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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