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Line breaks: per¦ish
Pronunciation: /ˈpɛrɪʃ

Definition of perish in English:


[no object]
1 literary Die, especially in a violent or sudden 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, draw one's last breath, pass away, go the way of all flesh, give up the ghost, go to glory, meet one's maker, go to one's last resting place, cross the great divide
North American informal bite the big one, buy the farm, check out, hand in one's dinner pail
Australian/New Zealand informal go bung
literary exit
1.1Suffer complete ruin or destruction: must these noble hopes perish so soon?
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), be destroyed, cease to exist, disappear, vanish, fade, dissolve, evaporate, melt away, pass into oblivion, wither
2(Of rubber, food, etc.) lose its normal qualities; rot or decay: an abandoned tyre whose rubber had 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.
3 (be perished) British informal Be suffering from extreme cold: I was perished with cold before the end of the day
More example sentences
  • He was not imaginative enough to ask himself whether the man might not be perishing with cold and hunger.


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


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!

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