exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance: It's not worth the risk.
  1. the hazard or chance of loss.
  2. the degree of probability of such loss.
  3. the amount that the insurance company may lose.
  4. a person or thing with reference to the hazard involved in insuring him, her, or it.
  5. the type of loss, as life, fire, marine disaster, or earthquake, against which an insurance policy is drawn.

verb (used with object)

to expose to the chance of injury or loss; hazard: to risk one's life.
to venture upon; take or run the chance of: to risk a fall in climbing; to risk a war.


    at risk,
    1. in a dangerous situation or status; in jeopardy: families at risk in the area of the weakened dam.
    2. under financial or legal obligation; held responsible: Are individual investors at risk for the debt part of the real estate venture?
    take/run a risk, to expose oneself to the chance of injury or loss; put oneself in danger; hazard; venture.

Origin of risk

1655–65; < French risque < Italian risc(hi)o, of obscure origin
Related formsrisk·er, nounrisk·less, adjectiveun·risked, adjective

Synonyms for risk

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

British Dictionary definitions for run a risk



the possibility of incurring misfortune or loss; hazard
  1. chance of a loss or other event on which a claim may be filed
  2. the type of such an event, such as fire or theft
  3. the amount of the claim should such an event occur
  4. a person or thing considered with respect to the characteristics that may cause an insured event to occur
at risk
  1. vulnerable; likely to be lost or damaged
  2. social welfarevulnerable to personal damage, to the extent that a welfare agency might take protective responsibility
no risk Australian informal an expression of assent
take a risk or run a risk to proceed in an action without regard to the possibility of danger involved in it

verb (tr)

to expose to danger or loss; hazard
to act in spite of the possibility of (injury or loss)to risk a fall in climbing
Derived Formsrisker, noun

Word Origin for risk

C17: from French risque, from Italian risco, from rischiare to be in peril, from Greek rhiza cliff (from the hazards of sailing along rocky coasts)
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 run a risk



1660s, risque, from French risque (16c.), from Italian risco, riscio (modern rischio), from riscare "run into danger," of uncertain origin. The anglicized spelling first recorded 1728. Spanish riesgo and German Risiko are Italian loan-words. With run (v.) from 1660s. Risk aversion is recorded from 1942; risk factor from 1906; risk management from 1963; risk taker from 1892.



1680s, from risk (n.), or from French risquer, from Italian riscare, rischaire, from the noun. Related: Risked; risks; risking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for run a risk




The possibility of suffering a harmful event.
A factor or course involving uncertain danger, as with smoking or exposure to radiation.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with run a risk

run a risk

Also, run the risk. Be subjected to danger, as in Hiding anything from customs means running a risk that you'll be caught, or Without the right postage and address, this package runs the risk of being lost. [Mid-1600s]


In addition to the idiom beginning with risk

  • risk life and limb

also see:

  • at risk
  • calculated risk
  • run a risk
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.