[ per-i-shuh-buhl ]
/ ˈpɛr ɪ ʃə bəl /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: perishable / perishables on Thesaurus.com

subject to decay, ruin, or destruction: perishable fruits and vegetables.
Usually perishables. something perishable, especially food.
There are grammar debates that never die; and the ones highlighted in the questions in this quiz are sure to rile everyone up once again. Do you know how to answer the questions that cause some of the greatest grammar debates?
Question 1 of 7
Which sentence is correct?

Origin of perishable

First recorded in 1605–15; perish + -able


per·ish·a·bil·i·ty, per·ish·a·ble·ness, nounper·ish·a·bly, adverbun·per·ish·a·ble, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does perishable mean?

Perishable is used to describe an item, usually food, that typically spoils within a relatively short amount of time, such as fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products.

Such items are often simply called perishables. (When used as a noun, the term is most commonly plural.)

The term is often contrasted with nonperishables—food items that can be stored for a long time without spoiling, like dried grains, beans, and pasta.

Perishable foods need to be specially stored (like in a refrigerator) or eaten relatively quickly. Nonperishables, on the other hand, are things that will last a long time without refrigeration or other special storage.

Example: Let’s try to eat all the perishables before we go on vacation—we don’t want to come back to spoiled milk and rotting tomatoes.

Where does perishable come from?

Perish means “to die,” “to pass away,” or “to suffer ruin.” It comes from Latin perīre, which literally means “to go through” or “to spend fully.” The first records of perishable as an adjective come from around the 1400s. The use of perishable as a noun referring to foods came later. Many early uses of perishable referred to things prone to death and destruction. The word can still be used this way, but today it is most commonly used as a noun in reference to foods that spoil.

Anyone who’s ever waited too long to eat a tomato or tried to drink milk well past its expiration date knows what perishable means. Sometimes, the shelf life of perishables can be extended through some form of processing, such as aging, pickling, drying, freeze-drying, or freezing, among others. But in most cases, you just have to eat ’em before they “go bad.”

This is why nonperishable food is important during emergencies, such as natural disasters, when the regular supply of food is interrupted and electricity may not be available to run refrigerators. Some 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. Food banks typically focus on storing nonperishable foods, though many accept perishables as well.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to perishable?

  • perish (verb)
  • nonperishable (adjective, noun)
  • perishability (noun)
  • perishableness (noun)
  • perishably (adverb)
  • unperishable adjective

What are some synonyms for perishable?

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



How is perishable used in real life?

Perishable is most often used to refer to food, but it can also be used to describe other items that can go bad. When it’s used as a noun, it’s usually plural.

Try using perishable!

Is perishable used correctly in the following sentence?

Let’s make sure we get all the perishable items in refrigeration.

How to use perishable in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for perishable

/ (ˈpɛrɪʃəbəl) /

liable to rot or wither
(often plural) a perishable article, esp food

Derived forms of perishable

perishability or perishableness, nounperishably, adverb
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