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From per- +‎ use, from either Medieval Latin (peruti, perusitare (wear out)) or Anglo-Norman (peruser (use up)), originally leading to two concurrent meanings, but only those derived from "to examine" survive today.



peruse (plural peruses)

  1. An examination or perusal; an instance of perusing.
    • 2008, Dave Robson, "Hi-tea, low cost!", Evening Gazette online, September 12,
      A peruse of the website looked promising []



peruse (third-person singular simple present peruses, present participle perusing, simple past and past participle perused)

  1. (transitive) To examine or consider with care.
  2. (transitive) To read completely.
  3. (transitive, informal) To look over casually; to skim.
    • 2001, Doug Stanton, In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis[1], ISBN 0805066322, page 35:
      Haynes quickly perused the message, then took it to the captain on the bridge.
    • 2005, Al Lovejoy, Acid Alex[2], ISBN 1770070931, page 98:
      She asked Denise for the court file, which she fussed from her handbag. The woman perused it briefly and then beamed up at me.
  4. (intransitive, regional) To go from place to place; to wander.
    • 1957, Robert Ruark, The Old Man And The Boy[3], ISBN 0805002391, page 55:
      I loved to straggle off in the mornings [] , just perusing around for firewood.

Usage notesEdit

  • The sense of "skimming" is proscribed by some authorities on usage, including the Oxford American Dictionary. The shift, however, is not dissimilar to that found in scan. The Oxford English Dictionary further notes that the word was used as a general synonym for read as far back as the 16th century.

Derived termsEdit






  1. vocative masculine singular of perusus