perk 1[purk] Word Origin verb (used without object)

  1. to become lively, cheerful, or vigorous, as after depression or sickness (usually followed by up): The patients all perked up when we played the piano for them.
  2. to act, or carry oneself, in a jaunty manner.
  3. to put oneself forward briskly or presumptuously.

verb (used with object)

  1. to make smart, trim, or jaunty (sometimes followed by up or out): to perk up a suit with a new white blouse.
  2. to raise smartly or briskly (often followed by up or out): to perk one’s head up.


  1. perky; jaunty: a perk manner.

Origin of perk 1 1350–1400; Middle English perken; perhaps akin to peer2 Related formsperk·ing·ly, adverbperk·ish, adjective British Dictionary definitions for perkish perk 1 adjective

  1. pert; brisk; lively


  1. See perk up

Word Origin for perk C16: see perk up perk 2 verb informal

  1. (intr) (of coffee) to percolate
  2. (tr) to percolate (coffee)

perk 3 noun

  1. British informal short for perquisite

Word Origin and History for perkish perk v.

late 14c., “to make oneself trim or smart,” perhaps from Old North French perquer “to perch” (Modern French percher; see perch (n.1)), on notion of a bird preening its plumage. Sense of “raise oneself briskly” is first attested 1520s; perk up “recover liveliness” is from 1650s. Related: Perked; perking.

perk n.

1869, shortened and altered form of perquisite (q.v.); as a verb, 1934 as shortened and altered form of percolate.

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