Word of the Day : December 13, 2018

perennial

play
adjective puh-REN-ee-ul

Definition

1 : present at all seasons of the year

2 : persisting for several years usually with new herbaceous growth from a perennating part

3 a : persistent, enduring

b : continuing without interruption : constant, perpetual

c : regularly repeated or renewed : recurrent

Did You Know?

Nowadays when we talk about "perennial plants," or simply "perennials" (perennial can be a noun, too), we mean plants that die back seasonally but produce new growth in the spring. But originally perennial was equivalent to evergreen, used for plants that remain with us all year. We took this "throughout the year" sense straight from the Romans, whose Latin perennis combined per- ("throughout") with a form of annus ("year"). The poet Ovid, writing around the beginning of the first millennium, used the Latin word to refer to a "perennial spring" (a water source), and the scholar Pliny used it of birds that don't migrate. Our perennial retains these same uses, for streams and occasionally for birds, but it has long had extended meanings, too.


Examples

"Kieran [Culkin] called Saines in 2016 after a two-year hiatus to say, 'You know, I think I want to act again. I want to do This Is Our Youth.' Written by Kenneth Lonergan, … the play has become a perennial showcase for young actors." — Sam Kashner, Vanity Fair, December 2018

"Making the kids think of school as important to their complicated, often tragic lives—while meeting the demands of the curriculum—was a perennial struggle." — Sarah Stodder, The Washingtonian, November 2018



Word Family Quiz

What adjective derived from Latin annus ("year") describes things that are outmoded or old-fashioned?

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