• synonyms


[per-spahyuh r]
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verb (used without object), per·spired, per·spir·ing.
  1. to secrete a salty, watery fluid from the sweat glands of the skin, especially when very warm as a result of strenuous exertion; sweat.
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verb (used with object), per·spired, per·spir·ing.
  1. to emit through pores; exude.
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Origin of perspire

1640–50; < Latin perspīrāre to blow constantly (said of the wind), breathe through; in New Latin: to sweat imperceptibly. See per-, inspire
Related formsper·spir·a·bil·i·ty, nounper·spir·a·ble, adjectiveper·spir·ing·ly, adverbper·spir·y, adjectiveun·per·spired, adjectiveun·per·spir·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for perspire

secrete, drip, pour, swelter, exude, lather, glow

Examples from the Web for perspire

Contemporary Examples of perspire

Historical Examples of perspire

British Dictionary definitions for perspire


  1. to secrete or exude (perspiration) through the pores of the skin
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Derived Formsperspiringly, adverb

Word Origin for perspire

C17: from Latin perspīrāre to blow, from per- (through) + spīrāre to breathe; compare inspire
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 perspire


1640s, "to evaporate through the pores," a back-formation from perspiration and in part from Latin perspirare "to breathe, to blow constantly" (see perspiration). Meaning "to sweat" is a polite usage attested from 1725. Medical men tried to maintain a distinction between "sensible" (sweat) and "insensible" perspiration:

[I]t is sufficient for common use to observe, that perspiration is that insensible discharge of vapour from the whole surface of the body and the lungs which is constantly going on in a healthy state; that it is always natural and always salutary; that sweat, on the contrary, is an evacuation, which never appears without some uncommon effort, or some disease to the system, that it weakens and relaxes, and is so far from coinciding with perspiration, that it obstructs and checks it. [Charles White, "A Treatise on the Management of Pregnant and Lying-in Women," London, 1791]

Related: Perspired; perspiring.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

perspire in Medicine


  1. To excrete perspiration through the pores of the skin.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.