Definition of perish in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈperiSH/


[no object]
1Suffer death, typically in a violent, sudden, or untimely way: a great part of his army perished of hunger and disease
More example sentences
  • We found her boat, in pieces on the shore, and I thought she had perished in a violent storm crossing the ocean.
  • Much of the army perished at the river, and most of the rest were captured.
  • Malnourished children do not typically perish from hunger but when children are weak, common childhood ailments become killers.
die, lose one's life, be killed, fall, expire, meet one's death, be lost, lay down one's life, breathe one's last, pass away, go the way of all flesh, give up the ghost, go to glory, meet one's maker, cross the great divide
informal kick the bucket, turn up one's toes, shuffle off this mortal coil, buy it, croak, bite the big one, buy the farm
archaic decease, depart this life
1.1Suffer complete ruin or destruction: the old regime had to perish
More example sentences
  • He died in a shabby Roman hotel the year after that regime had perished.
  • They hoped the ruling party could help save the paper from perishing.
  • Will it successfully resist or perish due to state repression?
come to an end, die (away), disappear, vanish, fade, dissolve, evaporate, melt away, wither
1.2(Of rubber, a foodstuff, or other organic substance) lose its normal qualities; rot or decay: most domestic building was in wood and has perished
More example sentences
  • Some argue that organic fruit and vegetables perish quickly, but there's no need to waste food that has reached the end of its shelf life.
  • Since you're looking for foods that don't perish too fast and can be eaten without silverware, I suggest plant-based foods for lunches.
  • Leaks due to cracked or perished rubber make accurate measurement of blood pressure difficult because the fall in mercury cannot be controlled.
go bad, go off, spoil, rot, go moldy, molder, putrefy, decay, decompose


perish the thought

informal Used, often ironically, to show that one finds a suggestion or idea completely ridiculous or unwelcome: he wasn’t out to get drunk—perish the thought!
More example sentences
  • Or even, perish the thought, an expenditure that need not have its results measured in dollars and cents, but as an altruistic good.
  • But perish the thought that you should actually cut your pay.
  • We wouldn't take a brown envelope - perish the thought!


Middle English: from Old French periss-, lengthened stem of perir, from Latin perire 'pass away', from per- 'through, completely' + ire 'go'.

  • To perish is literally to ‘pass away’ or ‘go away’—that is the meaning of the source, Latin perire, formed from per- ‘through, completely’ and ire ‘go’. A mischievous or awkward person, especially a child, has been a perisher since the end of the 19th century. For many the word is particularly associated with the comic strip The Perishers, about a group of children and their sheepdog Boot, which ran in the Daily Mirror newspaper from 1958 to 2006. Shakespeare's plays have not always been popular. From the later 17th century people preferred them in updated form, often with wholly inappropriate happy endings. In 1700 the English comic actor, dramatist, and theatre manager Colley Cibber brought out a rewritten version of Shakespeare's Richard III. Its only claim to fame is that it gave English perish the thought.

Words that rhyme with perish


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: per·ish

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