[ pur; unstressed per ]
See synonyms for per on
  1. for each; for every: Membership costs ten dollars per year. This cloth is two dollars per yard.

  2. by means of; by; through: I am sending the recipe per messenger.

  1. Also as per . according to; in accordance with: I delivered the box per your instructions.He managed to monopolize the meeting, per usual.

  1. Informal. each; for each one: The charge for window-washing was five dollars per.

Origin of per

First recorded in 1580–90; from Latin: “through, by, for, for each”; see for

usage note For per

Per meaning a or an or for each occurs chiefly in technical or statistical contexts: miles per gallon; work-hours per week; feet per second; gallons of beer per person per year. It is also common in sports commentary: He averaged 16 points per quarter. Per is sometimes criticized in business writing in the sense “according to” and is rare in literary writing.

Words that may be confused with per

  • per , purr (see usage note at the current entry)

Other definitions for per- (2 of 4)


  1. a prefix meaning “through,” “thoroughly,” “utterly,” “very”: pervert; pervade; perfect.

  2. Chemistry. a prefix used in the names of inorganic acids and their salts that possess the maximum amount of the element specified in the base word: percarbonic (H2C2O5), permanganic (HMnO4), persulfuric (H2S2O8), acids; potassium permanganate (KMnO4); potassium persulfate (K2S2O8).

Origin of per-

From Latin, combining form of per, and used as an intensive; per

Other definitions for per. (3 of 4)


  1. percentile.

  2. period.

  1. person.

Other definitions for Per. (4 of 4)


  1. Persia.

  2. Persian. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use per in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for per (1 of 3)


/ (pɜː, unstressed ) /

  1. for every: three pence per pound

  1. (esp in some Latin phrases) by; through

  2. as per according to: as per specifications

  1. as per usual informal as usual

Origin of per

C15: from Latin: by, for each

British Dictionary definitions for PER (2 of 3)


abbreviation for(in Britain)
  1. Professional Employment Register

British Dictionary definitions for per- (3 of 3)


  1. through: pervade

  2. throughout: perennial

  1. away, beyond: perfidy

  2. completely, throughly: perplex

  3. (intensifier): perfervid

  4. indicating that a chemical compound contains a high proportion of a specified element: peroxide; perchloride

  5. indicating that a chemical element is in a higher than usual state of oxidation: permanganate; perchlorate

  6. (not in technical usage) a variant of peroxy- persulphuric acid

Origin of per-

from Latin per through

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