Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To die or be destroyed, especially in a violent or untimely manner: "Must then a Christ perish in torment in every age to save those who have no imagination?” ( George Bernard Shaw).
  • intransitive v. To pass from existence; disappear gradually: "Man will go down into the pit, and all his thoughts will perish” ( A.J. Balfour).
  • intransitive v. Chiefly British To spoil or deteriorate.
  • transitive v. To bring to destruction; destroy: "Many foul blights/Perish'd his hard won gains” ( Thomas Hood).
  • idiom perish the thought Used to express the wish that one not even think about something.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To pass away; to come to naught; to waste away; to decay and disappear.
  • v. To die; to cease to live.
  • v. To cause to perish.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To be destroyed; to pass away; to become nothing; to be lost; to die; hence, to wither; to waste away.
  • transitive v. To cause perish.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To pass away; come to naught; waste away; decay and disappear.
  • To cease to live; die.
  • Synonyms Expire, Decease, etc. See die.
  • To bring to naught; injure; destroy; kill.
  • An obsolete form of pierce.
  • n. The act of perishing: in the following slang phrase.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. pass from physical life and lose all bodily attributes and functions necessary to sustain life

Etymologies

Middle English perishen, from Old French perir, periss-, to perish, from Latin perīre : per-, per- + īre, to go; see ei- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English perishen, from Old French periss-, stem of certain parts of perir, from Latin perīre ("to pass away, perish"), present active infinitive of pereō, from per ("through") +  ("to go"); see iter. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "In organic evolution the weak, the sick, the helpless, the unfit in anyway, perish, _and ought to perish_, because this is the most efficient way of strengthening the _blood or physical nature_ of the species, and thus of carrying forward evolution.

    Oriental Religions and Christianity A Course of Lectures Delivered on the Ely Foundation Before the Students of Union Theological Seminary, New York, 1891

  • And Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer: -- and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to law, and _if I perish, I perish_. "

    The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Part 1 of 4

  • Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer: -- and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to law, and _if I perish, I perish_. "

    An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South

  • Counsel shall not perish from the wise; the administration of public affairs shall always be lodged with the privy-counsellors and ministers of state, to whom it belongs; nor shall the word perish from the prophets -- they mean those of their own choosing, who prophesied to them smooth things, and flattered them with visions of peace.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume IV (Isaiah to Malachi)

  • Ever hear “that we here highly resolve ... that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

    Why I Tweet

  • That Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, jailed 20,000 people without charges, forcibly shut down hundreds of newspapers that criticized him, and sent in federal troops to shut down state legislatures was irrelevant because he proclaimed “that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

    #200 for Abe the Warmonger « Antiwar.com Blog

  • With the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln posited the idea of a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.; and whose closing demands that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

    7 posts from August 2009

  • Yes, I am a perishing blond, and a man, and I sit in the high place and bend the stupid ones to my will; and I am a lover, loving a royal woman of my own perishing breed, and together we occupy, and shall occupy, the high place of government and command until our kind perish from the earth.

    CHAPTER XLVI

  • Unless these two functions be carried on, life must perish from the planet.

    The Kempton-Wace Letters

  • Does President Obama really think “that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall [possibly] perish from the earth”? —

    A Mission to Serve Lunch in the Capitol - The Caucus Blog - NYTimes.com

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