• synonyms


verb (used without object)
  1. to die or be destroyed through violence, privation, etc.: to perish in an earthquake.
  2. to pass away or disappear: an age of elegance that has forever perished.
  3. to suffer destruction or ruin: His valuable paintings perished in the fire.
  4. to suffer spiritual death: Save us, lest we perish.
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  1. perish the thought, may it never happen: used facetiously or as an afterthought of foreboding.
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Origin of perish

1200–50; Middle English perissen < Old French periss-, long stem of perir < Latin perīre to perish, literally, go through, spend fully, equivalent to per- per- + īre to go
Related formsper·ish·less, adjectiveper·ish·ment, nounun·per·ished, adjective


Synonym study

1. See die1.


2. appear.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for perish the thought


verb (intr)
  1. to be destroyed or die, esp in an untimely way
  2. (tr sometimes followed by with or from) to cause to sufferwe were perished with cold
  3. to rotleather perishes if exposed to bad weather
  4. perish the thought! may it never be or happen thus
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  1. do a perish Australian informal to die or come near to dying of thirst or starvation
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Word Origin

C13: from Old French périr, from Latin perīre to pass away entirely, from per- (away) + īre to go
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 perish the thought



mid-13c., from periss- present participle stem of Old French perir "perish, be lost, be shipwrecked" (12c.), from Latin perire "to be lost, perish," literally "to go through," from per- "through, completely, to destruction" (see per) + ire "to go" (see ion). Related: Perished; perishing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with perish the thought

perish the thought

Don't even think of it. This expression is used as a wish that what was just mentioned will never happen. For example, He's going to give another speech? Perish the thought! This phrase appeared in Handel's oratorio Joshua (1748; text by Thomas Morell): “It never shall be said that our allies in vain implor'd our aid. Perish the thought!” Also see god forbid.

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In addition to the idiom beginning with perish

  • perish the thought

also see:

  • publish or perish
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.