From Middle English perishen, borrowed from Old French periss-, stem of certain parts of perir, from Latin perīre (to pass away, perish), present active infinitive of pereō, from per (through) + (to go); see iter.


  • IPA(key): /ˈpɛɹɪʃ/
  • (file)
  • Homophone: parish (some accents)
  • Hyphenation: per‧ish


perish (third-person singular simple present perishes, present participle perishing, simple past and past participle perished)

  1. (intransitive) To decay and disappear; to waste away to nothing.
    • 1881, Tarafa, translated by W. A. Clouston, The Poem of Tarafa
      I consider time as a treasure decreasing every night; and that which every day diminishes soon perishes for ever.
  2. (intransitive) To decay in such a way that it can't be used for its original purpose
    • 2015, Christopher Cumo, Foods that Changed History
      The difficulty is that fresh foods perish due to the multiplication in them of harmful bacteria.
  3. (intransitive) To die; to cease to live.
    • 1719, Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
      ...the ship struck upon a sand, and ... the sea broke over her in such a manner that we expected we should all have perished immediately; and we were immediately driven into our close quarters, to shelter us from the very foam and spray of the sea.
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To cause to perish.
    • 1625, Francis Bacon, Of Friendship
    • that closeness did impair and a little perish his understanding
    • 1898, William Pett Ridge, By Order of the Magistrate, page 209:
      "Leggo my shou'der, I tell you! Leggo!" He struggled with her, and the customers came forward. "Chrise! I'll perish you, if you ain't careful!" He turned suddenly,...


Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Further readingEdit