pe·​ren·​ni·​al | \ pə-ˈre-nē-əl How to pronounce perennial (audio) \

Essential Meaning of perennial

1 of a plant : living for several years or for many years : having a life cycle that is more than two years long a perennial plant This variety of oregano is perennial.
2 : existing or continuing in the same way for a long time Hot dogs are a perennial favorite at barbecues. [=people always like to eat hot dogs at barbecues]
3 : happening again and again Flooding is a perennial problem for people living by the river.

Full Definition of perennial

1 : present at all seasons of the year
2 : persisting for several years usually with new herbaceous growth from a perennating part perennial asters
3a : persistent, enduring perennial favorites
b : continuing without interruption : constant, perpetual the perennial quest for certainty a perennial student
c : regularly repeated or renewed : recurrent death is a perennial literary theme

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Other Words from perennial

perennial noun
perennially \ pə-​ˈre-​nē-​ə-​lē How to pronounce perennial (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for perennial

continual, continuous, constant, incessant, perpetual, perennial mean characterized by continued occurrence or recurrence. continual often implies a close prolonged succession or recurrence. continual showers the whole weekend continuous usually implies an uninterrupted flow or spatial extension. football's oldest continuous rivalry constant implies uniform or persistent occurrence or recurrence. lived in constant pain incessant implies ceaseless or uninterrupted activity. annoyed by the incessant quarreling perpetual suggests unfailing repetition or lasting duration. a land of perpetual snowfall perennial implies enduring existence often through constant renewal. a perennial source of controversy

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" (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 of perennial in a Sentence

The problem … is inherent and perennial in any democracy, but it has been more severe in ours during the past quarter-century because of the near universal denigration of government, politics and politicians. — Michael Kinsley, Time, 29 Oct. 2001 The issue between science and art is of perennial interest to me, since I started off in science in college, in medicine, was headed for psychiatry, and ended up writing novels … — Walker Percy, "The State Of The Novel," 1977, in Signposts in a Strange Land1991 … scientists are warning that a perennial viral threat, the upcoming flu season, could be far more dangerous than usual—more evidence that these tiny foes are responsible for a large share of human suffering. — Claudia Wallis, Time, 3 Nov. 1986 This variety of oregano is perennial. Flooding is a perennial problem for people living by the river.
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Recent Examples on the Web The duo connected for dozens of wins over the next 11 years, from April into October, as the Dodgers emerged from the penny-pinching McCourt years to become high-spending perennial contenders. Los Angeles Times, 5 Oct. 2021 The buzz around this game is palpable, as the Tigers are perennial contenders and have won 10 straight in the head-to-head series., 30 Sep. 2021 What has long been accurately viewed as a young, developing team has officially joined the ranks of big-league perennial title contenders. Joel Rush, Forbes, 28 Sep. 2021 The contest between the Lake Oswego Lakers and Sheldon Irish features two teams currently ranked in the top-10 of The Oregonian/OregonLive’s latest poll and who are perennial contenders for the state 6A championship. oregonlive, 24 Sep. 2021 With Manning and Tom Brady at quarterback, the two teams were perennial Super Bowl contenders, repeatedly facing one another in the playoffs. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, 21 Sep. 2021 After six mostly painful seasons in the Grossmont Hills League with perennial county contenders Helix, Granite Hills, Steele Canyon and Grossmont. Jim Lindgren, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Sep. 2021 While the Bison have been perennial contenders for the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision title for the past decade, success has been maddeningly fleeting for the Tigers. Edward Lee,, 17 Sep. 2021 Some took place during Oscars week, when his films were perennial contenders before reports of his misconduct helped spark the #MeToo movement. CBS News, 21 July 2021

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

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First Known Use of perennial

circa 1660, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for perennial

Latin perennis, from per- throughout + annus year — more at per-, annual

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Time Traveler for perennial

Time Traveler

The first known use of perennial was circa 1660

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Dictionary Entries Near perennial



perennial canker

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Last Updated

22 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Perennial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for perennial


pe·​ren·​ni·​al | \ pə-ˈre-nē-əl How to pronounce perennial (audio) \

Kids Definition of perennial

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : present all through the year a perennial stream
2 : living from year to year a perennial plant
3 : never ending : constant perennial joy
4 : happening again and again perennial flooding



Kids Definition of perennial (Entry 2 of 2)

: a plant that lives from year to year


pe·​ren·​ni·​al | \ pə-ˈren-ē-əl How to pronounce perennial (audio) \

Medical Definition of perennial

: present at all seasons of the year perennial rhinitis

More from Merriam-Webster on perennial

Nglish: Translation of perennial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of perennial for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about perennial


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