Definitions

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

  • adv. Archaic Perhaps; perchance.
  • n. Chance or uncertainty; doubt.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adv. perchance or maybe; perhaps
  • n. chance, doubt or uncertainty

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adv. By chance; perhaps; it may be; if; supposing.
  • n. Chance; hap; hence, doubt; question.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Perchance; perhaps; it may be.
  • n. Doubt; question; uncertainty.

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

  • adv. by chance
  • n. doubt or uncertainty as to whether something is the case

Etymologies

Middle English per aventure, from Old French, by chance : per, through (from Latin; see per) + aventure, chance; see adventure.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English peraventure, from Old French par aventure. Spelling modified as though from Latin. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • As for that, said the knight, I will be avised; but an thou wilt tell me thy name peradventure I will tell thee mine.

    Le Morte Darthur: Sir Thomas Malory's Book of King Arthur and of his Noble Knights of the Round Table, Volume 1

  • Might have known that "peradventure" would pop up.

    Competition Time

  • I speake my minde freely of all things, yea, of such as peradventure exceed my sufficiencie, and that no way I hold to be of my jurisdiction.

    Of Bookes.

  • Elsewhere, the greatest certitude as to Him is a 'peradventure'; Jesus alone says 'Verily, verily.'

    Expositions of Holy Scripture Isaiah and Jeremiah

  • It is not enough, perhaps, to reach the ear of his auditor: 'peradventure' he too 'will also pierce it.'

    The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakspere Unfolded

  • One of them, based on vague memories of the Elizabethan English of the Authorized Version (albeit much of its language was borrowed from Tyndale's 16th-century translation), is that Classical Hebrew tends to be long-winded and is overloaded with the equivalents of "peradventure,"

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol XIX No 3

  • If The People knew just what their money was being spent on and in what amounts, I am certain beyond a peradventure that they would be deeply shocked at many of the things upon which their hard-earned money is spent .... or rather blown.

    Let Us Destroy The Big State

  • Thirty there were at least of them, not counting other gods that were neither black nor white, but that still, two-legged, upright and garmented, were beyond all peradventure gods.

    CHAPTER XX

  • It was at this stage that the players sat up and knew beyond peradventure that big hands were out.

    Chapter 2

  • Yet he was capable of knowing beyond all peradventure of a doubt that three bones are more than two bones, and that ten dogs compose a more redoubtable host than do two dogs.

    CHAPTER IV

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Comments

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  • It's a great book and he is a funny-sad character.

    January 15, 2009

  • Isn't he a splendid character? Absolutely the quintessence of the Pompous Windbag.

    January 15, 2009

  • Changed my mind about this word as the awful Mr Thwaites in Slaves of Solitude uses it.

    January 15, 2009

  • Also in Henry V. :)

    December 16, 2008

  • spotted in Kidnapped earlier today.

    December 16, 2008