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haz·​ard ˈha-zərd How to pronounce hazard (audio)
plural hazards
: a source of danger
hazards on the roadway
: the effect of unpredictable and unanalyzable forces in determining events : chance, risk
the hazards involved in owning your own business
Men and women danced together, women danced together, men danced together, as hazard had brought them together.Charles Dickens
: a chance event : accident
… looked like a fugitive, who had escaped from something in clothes caught up at hazard.Willa Cather
hazards plural : special lights on a vehicle that flash on and off and are used to warn other drivers (as when the vehicle is not working properly) : hazard lights
If you do break down or crash, immediately turn on your hazards.Shape
Drivers should also turn off their hazards when signaling to exit the highway.John Cichowski
: a golf-course obstacle (such as a bunker or a pond)
: a game of chance like craps played with two dice
obsolete : stake sense 3a


2 of 2


hazarded; hazarding; hazards

transitive verb

: to offer or present at a risk : venture
hazard a guess as to the outcome
at hazard
: at stake

Did you know?

At first hazard was a game of chance played with dice. The English word comes from medieval French, in which the game was called hasard. This French word was probably borrowed from Arabic az-zahr, meaning “the dice” or “one of the dice.” The game was borrowed from the French by the English, and within a few centuries what had been a chance taken on the outcome of a throw of the dice could be any venture or risk. Now “chance” or “venture” and “risk” or “peril” are the usual meanings of hazard. The verb hazard emerged in the 16th century.

Example Sentences

Noun the tumbledown old barn was considered a fire hazard it was only by hazard and good fortune that we found our way back to the trail Verb His friend asked him to hazard a small sum in a business venture. just so the tourists could see the sea lions up close, the captain needlessly hazarded his ship
Recent Examples on the Web
Is there a way to fix this to correct the appearance and to prevent further widening, which could become a tripping hazard? Jeanne Huber, Washington Post, 3 Feb. 2023 Her administration has helped hundreds of people find housing, whether on their own or in low threshold emergency housing sites, and cleared a persistent tent encampment that had become a health and safety hazard. Emma Platoff, BostonGlobe.com, 25 Jan. 2023 Hot lights can become a fire hazard when put on a dry tree. Katie Begley, Peoplemag, 30 Nov. 2022 Fielding questions unrelated to his team and his sport has, though, become a hazard of his job. Rory Smith, New York Times, 20 Nov. 2022 According to a 2019 paper published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, glitter may be a significant source of microplastic in the environment and become a hazard to various organisms. Carla Delgado, Discover Magazine, 9 Mar. 2022 Use carpeting or hardwood flooring as opposed to area rugs, which can bunch up or become a tripping hazard. Keep walking areas clear of clutter. Arlene Becker, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6 Jan. 2022 Temperatures are expected to be near or above freezing when the storm moves through, meaning impacts to bridges and overpasses would be the primary hazard. Daniel Mcfadin, Arkansas Online, 10 Feb. 2023 Early this year many ski resorts were complaining of too little snow, but avalanches — and accidents involving them — are a common hazard in the Alps. Christopher F. Schuetze, New York Times, 6 Feb. 2023
When Anna Nicole Smith was found unresponsive on February 8, no one could hazard a guess as to the cause. Maude Campbell, Popular Mechanics, 11 Nov. 2020 Arizona state climatologist Erinanne Saffell will be watching this year's championship from her home, but didn't hazard a guess as to how changing temperatures might affect the game. The Arizona Republic, 9 Feb. 2023 Feel free to hazard a guess as to why - sharpening, perhaps? Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 2 May 2010 Another 25% of respondents underestimated average life expectancies, 10% overestimated them and the rest didn’t even hazard a serious guess. Russ Wiles, The Arizona Republic, 30 Jan. 2023 The prospect of a complete defeat of Russia, which could undermine Mr. Putin and his circle, embodies risks of Russian escalation that many NATO country leaders, including President Biden, seem unwilling to hazard. Steven Erlanger, New York Times, 10 Jan. 2023 Duplay and co do not hazard a guess—their plans are by no means advanced enough for that. The Physics Arxiv Blog, Discover Magazine, 24 Feb. 2022 Bingman won't even hazard a guess as to what scent cues guided the spiders home. Elizabeth Preston, Discover Magazine, 24 Jan. 2017 No other writers are so closely associated with the King, even if their run of collaborations with Elvis was ultimately cut short by… want to hazard a guess? Chris Willman, Variety, 4 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hazard.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French hasard, from Old Spanish azar, from Arabic al-zahr the die

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5


circa 1601, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hazard was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near hazard

Cite this Entry

“Hazard.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hazard. Accessed 24 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
haz·​ard ˈhaz-ərd How to pronounce hazard (audio)
: a game of chance played with two dice
: a source of danger
: an obstacle on a golf course


2 of 2 verb
: venture entry 1 sense 1, risk
hazard a guess


Middle English hazard "game of chance," from early French hasard (same meaning), from Arabic az-zahr "the die (one of the dice)"

Legal Definition


haz·​ard ˈha-zərd How to pronounce hazard (audio)
: a condition that tends to create or increase the possibility of loss
used especially in insurance law

More from Merriam-Webster on hazard

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