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From Middle English perishen, borrowed from Old French perir (via the stem periss- used in various conjugations), from Latin perīre (pass away, perish), from per (through) + īre (pass, go).


  • IPA(key): /ˈpɛɹɪʃ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛɹɪʃ
  • 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 cannot 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.
    Synonyms: decease, pass away; see also Thesaurus:die
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To cause to perish.
    • 1625, Francis [Bacon], “Of Friendship”, in The Essayes [], 3rd edition, London: [] Iohn Haviland for Hanna Barret, →OCLC:
      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,...

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