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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.


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /pəˈɹuːz/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -uːz


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, page 35:
      Haynes quickly perused the message, then took it to the captain on the bridge.
    • 2005, Al Lovejoy, Acid Alex[2], →ISBN, 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, page 55:
      I loved to straggle off in the mornings [] , just perusing around for firewood.

Usage notes[edit]

  • 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.

Derived terms[edit]



peruse (plural peruses)

  1. 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 []






  1. vocative masculine singular of perusus