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verb (used without object)
  1. to become lively, cheerful, or vigorous, as after depression or sickness (usually followed by up): The patients all perked up when we played the piano for them.
  2. to act, or carry oneself, in a jaunty manner.
  3. to put oneself forward briskly or presumptuously.
verb (used with object)
  1. to make smart, trim, or jaunty (sometimes followed by up or out): to perk up a suit with a new white blouse.
  2. to raise smartly or briskly (often followed by up or out): to perk one's head up.
  1. perky; jaunty: a perk manner.

Origin of perk1

1350–1400; Middle English perken; perhaps akin to peer2
Related formsperk·ing·ly, adverbperk·ish, adjective


verb (used with or without object) Informal.
  1. to percolate: Has the coffee perked yet? The research team is perking with new ideas.

Origin of perk2

1930–35, Americanism; by shortening and respelling of percolate


noun Informal.
  1. perquisite.

Origin of perk3

First recorded in 1815–25; by shortening and respelling
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for perk

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British Dictionary definitions for perk


  1. pert; brisk; lively
  1. See perk up

Word Origin

C16: see perk up


verb informal
  1. (intr) (of coffee) to percolate
  2. (tr) to percolate (coffee)


  1. British informal short for perquisite
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

Word Origin and History for perk


late 14c., "to make oneself trim or smart," perhaps from Old North French perquer "to perch" (Modern French percher; see perch (n.1)), on notion of a bird preening its plumage. Sense of "raise oneself briskly" is first attested 1520s; perk up "recover liveliness" is from 1650s. Related: Perked; perking.


1869, shortened and altered form of perquisite (q.v.); as a verb, 1934 as shortened and altered form of percolate.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper