AskDefine | Define peripheral

Dictionary Definition

peripheral adj
1 on or near an edge or constituting an outer boundary; the outer area; "Russia's peripheral provinces"; "peripheral suburbs" [ant: central]
2 related to the key issue but not of central importance; "a peripheral interest"; "energy is far from a peripheral issue in the economy"; "peripheral issues" n : (computer science) electronic equipment connected by cable to the CPU of a computer; "disk drives and printers are important peripherals" [syn: computer peripheral, peripheral device]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • a UK /ˈpɜː(ɹ).ɪf.ɜː(ɹ).əl/, /"p3:(r).If.3:(r).@l/


  1. on the periphery or boundary
  2. beside the point
  3. unimportant
  4. auxiliary


on the periphery or boundary
beside the point

Derived terms


  1. a device, such as a printer or scanner, connected to a computer


computing device

Extensive Definition

For an account of the words periphery and peripheral as they are used in biology, sociology, politics, computer hardware, and other fields, see the periphery disambiguation page.
A peripheral is a piece of computer hardware that is added to a host computer ,i.e any hardware except the computer, in order to expand its abilities. More specifically, the term is used to describe those devices that are optional in nature, as opposed to hardware that is either demanded or always required in principle.
The term also tends to be applied to devices that are hooked up externally, typically through some form of computer bus like USB. Typical examples include joysticks, printers and scanners. Devices such as monitors and disk drives are not considered peripherals when they are not truly optional.
Some people do not consider internal devices such as video capture cards to be peripherals because they are added inside the computer case; for them, the term peripherals is reserved exclusively for devices that are hooked up externally to the computer. It is debatable however whether PCMCIA cards qualify as peripherals under this restrictive definition, because some of them go fully inside the laptop, while some, like WiFi cards, have external appendages.
Due to these considerations, the term has somewhat fallen out of modern usage; it was mainly used in the early days of the home computer boom to refer to things like floppy disk drives and modems. Today most devices are integrated inside the computer's case, and external devices typically function on their own such as mp3 players and cell phones.
The term is different from computer accessories: Computer peripheral has a narrow meaning that refers only to the input output devices of a computer, whereas, computer accessories has a broader meaning, that refers, all the parts that support a computer which includes motherboards, sensors, chips, including all the input and output devices.

List of common peripherals

peripheral in Bosnian: Periferija
peripheral in Bulgarian: Периферно устройство
peripheral in Catalan: Perifèric
peripheral in Czech: Periferie
peripheral in German: Peripheriegerät
peripheral in Spanish: Periférico de ordenador
peripheral in Esperanto: Flankaparato
peripheral in Basque: Periferiko (ordenagailua)
peripheral in French: périphérique informatique
peripheral in Hungarian: Periféria
peripheral in Dutch: Randapparaat
peripheral in Japanese: 周辺機器
peripheral in Latin: Periphericum
peripheral in Portuguese: Periférico
peripheral in Romanian: Periferic
peripheral in Slovenian: Periferna naprava
peripheral in Finnish: Oheislaite

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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