From either Medieval Latin perūtor, perūsitō (“wear out”)) or Anglo-Norman peruser (“use up”)), originally leading to two concurrent meanings, but only those derived from "to examine" survive today. By surface analysis, per- + use.
- (transitive) To examine or consider with care.
- (transitive) To read completely.
- 1960, William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Simon & Schuster, page 81:
- Not every German who bought a copy of Mein Kampf necessarily read it. […] But it might be argued that had more non-Nazi Germans read it before 1933 and had the foreign statesmen of the world perused it carefully while there still was time, both Germany and the world might have been saved from catastrophe.
- (transitive, informal) To look over casually; to skim.
- (intransitive, regional) To go from place to place; to wander.
- 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, and thus, interestingly, peruse and scan are a synonym pair in which each is a contranym meaning either "to read carefully" or "to read hastily". To avoid ambiguity—and reader annoyance—careful writers may prefer skim when skimming is meant or scrutinize when care is meant. The Oxford English Dictionary further notes that the word peruse was used as a general synonym for read as far back as the 16th century.
peruse (plural peruses)
- An examination or perusal; an instance of perusing.
- 2008 September 12, Dave Robson, “Hi-tea, low cost!”, in Evening Gazette:
- A peruse of the website looked promising […]