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[per-ish] /ˈpɛr ɪʃ/
verb (used without object)
to die or be destroyed through violence, privation, etc.:
to perish in an earthquake.
to pass away or disappear:
an age of elegance that has forever perished.
to suffer destruction or ruin:
His valuable paintings perished in the fire.
to suffer spiritual death:
Save us, lest we perish.
perish the thought, may it never happen: used facetiously or as an afterthought of foreboding.
Origin of perish
1200-50; Middle English perissen < Old French periss-, long stem of perir < Latin perīre to perish, literally, go through, spend fully, equivalent to per- per- + īre to go
Related forms
perishless, adjective
perishment, noun
unperished, adjective
1. expire. See die1 . 2. wither, shrivel, rot, molder, vanish.
2. appear. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for perish
  • Publish or perish has long been the burden of every aspiring university professor.
  • It improves one's ability to teach but makes one question the sacred principle of publish or perish.
  • Another danger is that a worthy experiment with risk-based border controls will perish.
  • Bleaching occurs when warmer oceans cause corals to lose their symbiotic algae, leaving the blanched reefs to slowly perish.
  • Cities that cease to provide choice-or which try to overcontrol their denizens-lose their spark and sometimes perish.
  • New media predators rise up, but other media species typically adapt rather than perish.
  • That's why it's publish or perish, not teach or perish.
  • There is no way to predict which clones will thrive and which will perish.
  • Without relief, aid workers say, thousands more civilians would perish.
  • We, ourselves, would perish long before such an event would take place.
British Dictionary definitions for perish


verb (intransitive)
to be destroyed or die, esp in an untimely way
(transitive sometimes followed by with or from) to cause to suffer: we were perished with cold
to rot: leather perishes if exposed to bad weather
perish the thought!, may it never be or happen thus
(Austral, informal) do a perish, to die or come near to dying of thirst or starvation
Word Origin
C13: from Old French périr, from Latin perīre to pass away entirely, from per- (away) + īre to go
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for perish

mid-13c., from periss- present participle stem of Old French perir "perish, be lost, be shipwrecked" (12c.), from Latin perire "to be lost, perish," literally "to go through," from per- "through, completely, to destruction" (see per) + ire "to go" (see ion). Related: Perished; perishing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with perish


In addition to the idiom beginning with perish also see: publish or perish
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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