[ pur; unstressed per ]
/ pɜr; unstressed pər /


for each; for every: Membership costs ten dollars per year. This cloth is two dollars per yard.
by means of; by; through: I am sending the recipe per messenger.
according to; in accordance with: I delivered the box per your instructions.


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

Nearby words

  1. pepys,
  2. pepys' diary,
  3. pepys, samuel,
  4. pequot,
  5. pequot war,
  6. per an.,
  7. per annum,
  8. per anum,
  9. per ardua ad astra,
  10. per capita

Origin of per

1580–90; < Latin: through, by, for, for each. See for

Can be confusedper purr (see usage note at the current entry)

Usage note

Per for 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.


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

< Latin, combining form of per per, and used as an intensive


Per. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for per

British Dictionary definitions for per


/ (pɜː, unstressed ) /


for everythree pence per pound


(esp in some Latin phrases) by; through
as per according toas per specifications
as per usual informal as usual

Word Origin for per

C15: from Latin: by, for each


abbreviation for (in Britain)

Professional Employment Register



Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for per
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for per



Thoroughly; completely; intensely:perfuse.
Containing an element in its highest oxidation state:perchloric acid.
Containing a large or the largest possible proportion of an element:peroxide.
Containing the peroxy group:peracid.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.