jeop·​ar·​dy ˈje-pər-dē How to pronounce jeopardy (audio)
: exposure to or imminence of loss or injury : danger
placing their lives in jeopardy
workers in jeopardy of losing their jobs
law : the danger that an accused person is subjected to when on trial for a criminal offense

Did you know?

We'll start with the answer and you provide the question: A word meaning "danger" that inspired the title of a popular game show. Got it? If you buzzed in "what is jeopardy?" you are correct! Today’s word dates back to at least the 1300s, but its Middle English form can make it hard to spot: it appears in the phrase "in jupartie" with a meaning very much akin to the word's meaning in the modern phrase "in jeopardy"—that is, "in danger." The spellings of what we now render only as jeopardy were formerly myriad. The Oxford English Dictionary reports that between the late 14th and mid-17th centuries the word was spelled in a great variety of ways, among them ieupardyes (the spelling Chaucer used in The Canterbury Tales), iupertie, iupartye, ieoperdis, and juperti. Indeed, like the eponymous quiz show Jeopardy!, today’s word has a long history; we’d wager it has a long future, too.

Examples of jeopardy in a Sentence

the city's firefighters routinely put their lives in jeopardy by executing daring rescues
Recent Examples on the Web Lawyers who have sued local governments on behalf of youths in the child welfare system across California say that Santa Clara County, without better options, is putting itself in serious legal jeopardy. Julia Prodis Sulek, The Mercury News, 26 May 2024 But a serious safety incident last year has put that all in jeopardy. Emma Hinchliffe, Fortune, 20 May 2024 Credibility Issues Los Angeles defense attorney Lou Shapiro said the video adds to the jeopardy Combs is facing. Andrew J. Campa, Los Angeles Times, 19 May 2024 So, apparently, dog jeopardy is simply something that will follow me through my entire career path. Brian Davids, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for jeopardy 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'jeopardy.' 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 jeopardie, from Anglo-French juparti, jeuparti alternative, literally, divided game

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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


Dictionary Entries Near jeopardy

Cite this Entry

“Jeopardy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


jeop·​ar·​dy ˈjep-ərd-ē How to pronounce jeopardy (audio)

Legal Definition


jeop·​ar·​dy ˈje-pər-dē How to pronounce jeopardy (audio)
: exposure to or imminence of death, loss, or injury
: the danger of conviction that an accused person is subjected to when on trial for a criminal offense see also double jeopardy

Note: Jeopardy attaches, or comes into effect for double jeopardy purposes, when a jury is sworn in or, in a non-jury trial, when the judge begins to hear evidence. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbids double jeopardy for the same offense, and this applies whether the first trial ends in acquittal, conviction, or a mistrial. If a mistrial occurs due to a manifest necessity or if a defendant appeals a conviction, however, the rule against double jeopardy does not apply. The issue of manifest necessity is determined by the trial judge and, if necessary, by an appeals court.

More from Merriam-Webster on jeopardy

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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