pe·​ruse pə-ˈrüz How to pronounce peruse (audio)
perused; perusing

transitive verb

: to examine or consider with attention and in detail : study
: to look over or through in a casual or cursory manner
: read
especially : to read over in an attentive or leisurely manner
peruser noun

Frequently Asked Questions

Does peruse mean "read in detail"?

Peruse can mean "to read something in a relaxed way, or skim" and can also mean "to read something carefully or in detail." It is what is known as a contronym, a word having two meanings that contradict one another. There are numerous examples of these in English, including sanction, oversight, and dust. If you use peruse simply take care that your intended meaning is made clear by the context.

Does peruse mean "to skim"?

Yes; one of our definitions for peruse is "to skim." However, you should be aware that another of our definitions for this word is "to read something in detail." Some usage guides feel that the ‘"read carefully" sense is correct and that the "skim" sense is not. Both have been in widespread use for some four hundred years.

What is the noun form of peruse?

Peruse is a verb, referring to either the casual or the thorough and detailed examining of something. The related noun meaning "the act or an instance of perusing something" is perusal. Another noun related to peruse is peruser, "one who peruses."

Examples of peruse in a Sentence

To refresh my memory of the old days, I asked for some Dailies of the thirties from the morgue, sat down at the large round oak table at the end of the editorial room on the second floor, and began riffling through the musty pages. Soon a burly middle-aged man appeared and seated himself at the table to peruse some recent issues of the paper and take notes. Arthur Miller, Timebends, 1987
I've even found myself idly perusing the Yellow Pages, not frantic for a plumber, just browsing. Lesley Conger, Writer, October 1968
Bessie asked if I would have a book …  , and I begged her to fetch Gulliver's Travels from the library. This book I had again and again perused with delight. Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847
He perused the newspaper over breakfast. perused the manuscript, checking for grammatical errors
Recent Examples on the Web Spend some time with a cup of coffee in hand in the morning strolling the streets to peruse the many galleries downtown within one mile of each other. Molly Allen, Travel + Leisure, 21 July 2024 AllSaints Half Moon Leather Crossbody Bag $229 $115 Nordstrom Here’s a little secret: A solid cross-body bag is the key to a successful day of perusing vintage furniture shops. Angela Wei, Architectural Digest, 12 July 2024 Amble along historic Pine Avenue to peruse local shops, grab lunch, or visit Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum. Lisa A. Beach, Southern Living, 4 July 2024 While there are tons of markdowns to peruse in the site’s sale section, Amazon Prime members have access to exclusive discounts in the hidden Just for Prime hub. Clara McMahon, Peoplemag, 2 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for peruse 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'peruse.' 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, to use up, deal with in sequence, from Latin per- thoroughly + Middle English usen to use

First Known Use

circa 1520, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of peruse was circa 1520


Dictionary Entries Near peruse

Cite this Entry

“Peruse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


pe·​ruse pə-ˈrüz How to pronounce peruse (audio)
perused; perusing
: read entry 1 sense 1a
especially : to read carefully or thoroughly
peruser noun

More from Merriam-Webster on peruse

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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