Green’s Dictionary of Slang

perish v.

1. (orig. S.Afr.) to suffer a state of deprivation.

[UK]E. Glanville Kloof Yarns 89: Got a pipe and baccy; I’m just perishing for a smoke.
[UK]‘George Orwell’ Keep The Aspidistra Flying (1962) 7: He was perishing for a smoke.
[UK]D. Davin For the Rest of Our Lives 104: I thought you’d be perishing for news.
[Aus]Townsville Daily Bull. 13 Dec. 7/5: Here was her poor [...] husband perishing for grog on Christmas morning.

2. (Aus.) to cadge.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 10 Dec. 32/3: Re record ‘perishes.’ I know a man who lived on his father for 10 years; and the old man was only a little-’un, too!

3. (mainly Aus.) to attack, to punish, to kill.

[Aus]T. Wood Cobbers 202: Masts and Yards [...] said it would perish the crows.
[Aus]B. Fuller Ghan 75: I’ll perish you [...] I’ll put a half moon in your belly [AND].

In exclamations

perish me! (also perish me blind! ...pink!)

a general excl. of surprise, shock, amazement.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 41/2: Perish me blind, Mag, there wasn’t a bit of paper in ’ere a one you slung me. [Ibid.] 158/1: Where under the sun ’ave you all been this last hunder years. Perish me, if I didn’t think you were all ‘boked’ [sic] by this time.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 15 Dec. 251: God perish me blind I will wait on your brother all night till I catch him, and if I do not do him in two rounds, may I never put my hands up again.
Sporting Times (London) 15 Feb. 3/2: ‘Perish me stark stiff an’ stoopid if ever it were!’’.
[UK]Sporting Times 11 Feb. 1/5: Perishmy! but that’s progress!
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 21 Jan. 4/7: Perish me pink [...] I’ll get even.
[UK]A.N. Lyons Arthur’s 247: ‘Perish me pink!’ ejaculated Arthur.
[UK]E. Pugh Cockney At Home 24: ‘Perish me!’ he muttered, disgustedly.
[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 106: God perish the staving rooks. [Ibid.] 281: God perish the bleeding crows.