causing destruction, ruin, extreme discomfort, or death: lost in the perishing cold.

Origin of perishing

late Middle English word dating back to 1400–50; see origin at perish, -ing2
Related formsper·ish·ing·ly, adverbnon·per·ish·ing, adjectiveun·per·ish·ing, adjective



verb (used without object)

to die or be destroyed through violence, privation, etc.: to perish in an earthquake.
to pass away or disappear: an age of elegance that has forever perished.
to suffer destruction or ruin: His valuable paintings perished in the fire.
to suffer spiritual death: Save us, lest we perish.

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

Synonyms for perish

Synonym study

1. See die1.

Antonyms for perish

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

Examples from the Web for perishing

Contemporary Examples of perishing

Historical Examples of perishing

  • Well, pray keep up a good fire, for it is a perishing night.

    The Field of Ice

    Jules Verne

  • Their country is perishing for lack of a knowledge which they cannot supply.

  • The other, so challenged, answered, "When we were perishing of cold and there was a great depth of snow."



  • In short, romance is perishing from the sea with the universal invasion of steam.

  • We were surrounded with water, yet perishing 136 with thirst!

British Dictionary definitions for perishing



informal (of weather, etc) extremely cold
slang (intensifier qualifying something undesirable)it's a perishing nuisance!
Derived Formsperishingly, adverb


verb (intr)

to be destroyed or die, esp in an untimely way
(tr sometimes followed by with or from) to cause to sufferwe were perished with cold
to rotleather perishes if exposed to bad weather
perish the thought! may it never be or happen thus


do a perish Australian informal to die or come near to dying of thirst or starvation

Word Origin for perish

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 perishing



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with perishing


In addition to the idiom beginning with perish

  • perish the thought

also see:

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