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."

Example Sentences

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 The 39th annual edition of the festival is expected to attract more than 100,000 attendees to peruse the creations of more than 250 artists. Beth Wood, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Apr. 2023 In another, her son Tommy peruses his brother’s Playboy collection. Nadine Zylberberg, Vogue, 3 Apr. 2023 The photographer obliged and took some photos, but, after perusing his pictures, the woman decided to take her own selfie with Laviscount instead. Charles Trepany, USA TODAY, 10 Mar. 2023 Duval Street xbrchx The heart of old-town Key West, Duval Street is packed with bars and restaurants boasting live music every night, along with plenty of novelty shops to peruse once your Rum Runner kicks in. ELLE, 12 May 2023 The full set of novelties introduced at Watches and Wonders Geneva in March—including a trio of retrograde models—will be available for clients and watch lovers to peruse for the duration of the brand’s stay at the West Hollywood Edition. Victoria Gomelsky, Robb Report, 10 May 2023 Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are the best days to peruse the internet for discounts on your favorite brands and flash deals on items that have been on your wish list forever. Claire Harmeyer, Peoplemag, 27 Apr. 2023 Perhaps another will come aboard later this summer as general manager Dana Brown peruses options on the trade market. Michael Shapiro, Chron, 16 Feb. 2023 Supporting education: Donors Choose: Prospective donors can peruse through and choose a specific classroom project to fund — from donating art supplies and musical instruments to classroom technology and gym equipment. Amy Dickinson, Washington Post, 26 Dec. 2022 See More

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 10 Jun. 2023.

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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