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See more synonyms for perk on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object)
  1. to become lively, cheerful, or vigorous, as after depression or sickness (usually followed by up): The patients all perked up when we played the piano for them.
  2. to act, or carry oneself, in a jaunty manner.
  3. to put oneself forward briskly or presumptuously.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to make smart, trim, or jaunty (sometimes followed by up or out): to perk up a suit with a new white blouse.
  2. to raise smartly or briskly (often followed by up or out): to perk one's head up.
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  1. perky; jaunty: a perk manner.
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Origin of perk1

1350–1400; Middle English perken; perhaps akin to peer2
Related formsperk·ing·ly, adverbperk·ish, adjective


verb (used with or without object) Informal.
  1. to percolate: Has the coffee perked yet? The research team is perking with new ideas.
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Origin of perk2

1930–35, Americanism; by shortening and respelling of percolate
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for perking

Historical Examples

  • He was perking up his big ears and wagging his stump of a tail in front of him.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • And yet these perking courtiers are a long time seeing that.

    The Hero of the People

    Alexandre Dumas

  • Then she strolled over toward the Man, lifting her feet in her most aristocratic way and perking her head prettily.

    Tales of a Poultry Farm

    Clara Dillingham Pierson

  • He set coffee to perking, laid strips of bacon in a skillet and arranged half a dozen eggs nearby.

    Double Challenge

    James Arthur Kjelgaard

  • "Well, I for one don't like her a bit," declared Tilly, perking up the bow ends of the black sling that hung about her neck.

    The Sunbridge Girls at Six Star Ranch

    Eleanor H. (Eleanor Hodgman) Porter

British Dictionary definitions for perking


  1. pert; brisk; lively
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  1. See perk up
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Word Origin

C16: see perk up


verb informal
  1. (intr) (of coffee) to percolate
  2. (tr) to percolate (coffee)
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  1. British informal short for perquisite
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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 perking



late 14c., "to make oneself trim or smart," perhaps from Old North French perquer "to perch" (Modern French percher; see perch (n.1)), on notion of a bird preening its plumage. Sense of "raise oneself briskly" is first attested 1520s; perk up "recover liveliness" is from 1650s. Related: Perked; perking.

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1869, shortened and altered form of perquisite (q.v.); as a verb, 1934 as shortened and altered form of percolate.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper