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[puh-rif-er-uh l] /pəˈrɪf ər əl/
adjective, Also, peripheric (for defs 1–3).
pertaining to, situated in, or constituting the periphery:
peripheral resistance on the outskirts of the battle area.
concerned with relatively minor, irrelevant, or superficial aspects of the subject in question.
Anatomy. near the surface or outside of; external.
Computers. of or relating to a peripheral.
Computers. a device or unit that operates separately from the CPU but is connected to it, as a magnetic disk or tape unit or a printer.
Origin of peripheral
1800-10; 1965-70 for def 4; < Greek peripher(ḗs) (see periphery) + -al1
Related forms
peripherally, adverb
unperipheral, adjective
unperipherally, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for peripherals


not relating to the most important part of something; incidental, minor, or superficial
of, relating to, or of the nature of a periphery
(anatomy) of, relating to, or situated near the surface of the body: a peripheral nerve
Derived Forms
peripherally, adverb
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 peripherals



1803, from periphery + -al (1). An earlier formation was peripherial (1670s). Related: Peripherally. As a noun, peripherals, "peripheral devices of a computer," is from 1966.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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peripherals in Medicine

peripheral pe·riph·er·al (pə-rĭf'ər-əl)

  1. Related to, located in, or constituting an outer boundary or periphery.

  2. Perceived or perceiving near the outer edges of the retina.

  3. Of or relating to the surface or outer part of a body or organ; external.

  4. Of, relating to, or being part of the peripheral nervous system.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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peripherals in Science
  1. Anatomy Relating to or being the surface or outer part of a body or organ.

  2. Relating to or being part of the peripheral nervous system.

Noun  Computer Science An auxiliary device, such as a printer or modem, distinct from a computer's central processing unit and working memory, and often connected externally.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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peripherals in Culture

peripheral definition

Any part that is separate from a computer's CPU, such as a printer, a keyboard, or a monitor.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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