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Community Comment

A Word A Day — peruse

August 18, 2012

Word of the Day

  • peruse
  • audio pronunciation
  • \puh-ROOZ\


a : to examine or study attentively and in detail b : to look over or through in a casual or hasty manner
: read

Genevieve perused the menu while we waited for a table.

“Sample a Texas chenin blanc or an Italian valpolicella as you peruse art from (mostly) regional artists whose imaginations respectfully diverge from the bluebonnet-and-Longhorn genre.” — From an article by Courtney Bond in Texas Monthly, August 2012


“Peruse” has long been a literary word, used by such famous authors as Shakespeare, Tennyson, and Thomas Hardy, and it tends to have a literary flavor even in our time. “Peruse” can suggest paying close attention to something, but it can also simply mean “to read.” The “read” sense, which is not especially new and was in fact included in Samuel Johnson's 1755 dictionary, has drawn some criticism over the years for being too broad. Some commentators have recommended that “peruse” be reserved for reading with great care and attention to detail. But the fact remains that “peruse” is often used in situations where a simple “read” definition could be easily substituted. It may suggest either an attentive read or a quick scan.

From Merriam-Webster Online at

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