Produce published work or fall into disfavor. For example, The younger members of the department have a heavier teaching load, but they also know it's publish or perish. This expression is nearly always used for college or university teachers, for whom advancement frequently is predicated on publishing research in their field. [Mid-1900s]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.