[ non-per-i-shuh-buhl ]
/ nɒnˈpɛr ɪ ʃə bəl /
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not subject to rapid deterioration or decay: A supply of nonperishable food was kept for emergencies.
Usually nonperishables. articles or items, especially of food, not subject to rapid spoilage.
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Origin of nonperishable

First recorded in 1920–25; non- + perishable
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does nonperishable mean?

Nonperishable is used to describe an item, usually food, that can be stored for a long time without spoiling. Such items are often simply called nonperishables.

Perish is a verb that means to die, but perishable is an adjective used to describe something that decays or spoils quickly, especially food. Perishable can also be a noun—perishables are items, usually food, that need to be specially stored (like in a refrigerator) to make them last a while without spoiling, like meat and dairy products. Nonperishables, on the other hand, are things that will last a long time, like dried grains or canned foods.

Example: My school is collecting nonperishable items for our food drive.

Where does nonperishable come from?

The first records of nonperishable—both as an adjective and a noun—come from the 1800s (it was often hyphenated as non-perishable). It’s root, perish, is much older, with records in English dating to the 1200s.

The attempt to store foods for very long periods dates back even further than that. And today, the most common use of the word nonperishable is in the context of food. Nonperishable food is especially important during emergencies, such as natural disasters, when the regular supply of food is interrupted and electricity may not be available to run refrigerators. In the U.S., many people keep at least a small supply of nonperishable food items for emergencies or just as part of their normal supply of staples, like dried pasta and bagged snacks.

In most cases, items called nonperishable will eventually “go bad” after a certain amount of time. There are a lot of factors that determine an item’s shelf life, which is the length of time it will be OK to eat or drink. Canned foods and dried grains and beans can last years if stored properly, while snacks like cookies and crackers tend to reach their expiration dates much sooner.

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What are some words that share a root or word element with nonperishable?

What are some words that often get used in discussing nonperishable?


How is nonperishable used in real life?

Nonperishable is most often used to refer to food, especially food stored for emergencies or donated to be given to people in the community who can’t afford to buy it.



Try using nonperishable!

Is nonperishable used correctly in the following sentence?

Emergency experts advise people to stockpile water and nonperishable foods before the hurricane season begins.

How to use nonperishable in a sentence