noun \prō-ˈbā-shən\

: a situation or period of time in which a person who is starting a new job is tested and watched to see if that person is able to do the job properly

law : a situation or period of time in which a person who has committed a crime is allowed to stay out of prison if that person behaves well, does not commit another crime, etc.

: a situation or period of time in which a person who has made a serious mistake or done something bad is watched and must behave well in order not to be seriously punished

Full Definition of PROBATION

:  critical examination and evaluation or subjection to such examination and evaluation
a :  subjection of an individual to a period of testing and trial to ascertain fitness (as for a job or school)
b :  the action of suspending the sentence of a convicted offender and giving the offender freedom during good behavior under the supervision of a probation officer
c :  the state or a period of being subject to probation
pro·ba·tion·al \-shnəl, -shə-nəl\ adjective
pro·ba·tion·al·ly adverb
pro·ba·tion·ary \-shə-ˌner-ē\ adjective

Examples of PROBATION

  1. As a new employee, I will be on probation for three months.
  2. He hoped that the judge would grant him probation.
  3. He was sentenced to one year's probation.
  4. He was sent back to prison for violating his probation.
  5. She was arrested while on probation.
  6. Instead of firing her, they put her on probation.
  7. The student was placed on probation for copying test answers.


Middle English probacioun, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French probation, from Latin probation-, probatio, from probare
First Known Use: 15th century

Other Legal Terms

actionable, alienable, carceral, chattel, complicity, decedent, larceny, malfeasance, modus operandi


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Conditional suspension of an offender's sentence upon the promise of good behaviour and agreement to accept supervision and abide by specified requirements. It differs from parole in that the offender is not required to serve any of his sentence. Those convicted of serious offenses and those previously convicted of other offenses are usually not considered for probation. Studies in several countries show that 70 to 80% of probationers successfully complete their probation; additional limited evidence suggests that recidivism may be less than 30%.


Next Word in the Dictionary: probationer
Previous Word in the Dictionary: probate homestead
All Words Near: probation

Seen & Heard

What made you want to look up probation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).