\ ˈpärs , chiefly British ˈpärz \
parsed; parsing

Definition of parse 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to divide (a sentence) into grammatical parts and identify the parts and their relations to each other

b : to describe (a word) grammatically by stating the part of speech and explaining the inflection (see inflection sense 3a) and syntactical relationships

2 : to examine in a minute way : analyze critically having trouble parsing … explanations for dwindling market shares —R. S. Anson

intransitive verb

1 : to give a grammatical description of a word or a group of words

2 : to admit of being parsed



Definition of parse (Entry 2 of 2)

: a product or an instance of parsing

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Did You Know?


If "parse" brings up images of elementary school and learning the parts of speech, you've done your homework regarding this word. "Parse" comes from the first element of the Latin term for "part of speech" - "pars orationis." It's an old word that has been used in the schoolroom since the 16th century, but it did not graduate to its extended, non-grammar-related sense until the late 18th century. Remember this extended sense, and you're really at the head of the class.

Examples of parse in a Sentence


Students were asked to parse the sentence. Economists parsed the census data.

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Overall public opinion on immigration is always somewhat murky and a little hard to parse, but the trends here are unmistakable. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Support for immigration is surging in the Trump era," 5 July 2018 Other maps are designed as circles whose meaning are, frankly, incredibly hard to parse. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Massimo Vignelli’s unused maps for the D.C. Metro are amazing," 12 June 2018 In North Korea, the Supreme Leader’s New Year’s speech is his most important annual political statement, one that is endlessly parsed for hints at the secretive Stalinist state’s policy priorities for the next 12 months. Charlie Campbell / Beijing, Time, "However Small, North Korea's Olympics Talks Are a Victory," 8 Jan. 2018 McGahn and others told Trump that Kavanaugh did have a paper trail from his time investigating President Bill Clinton in the 1990s and from the Bush White House that would be parsed by Democrats. Author: Ashley Parker, Robert Costa, Anchorage Daily News, "‘All a little misdirection’: Inside Trump’s sometimes-wavering decision to nominate Kavanaugh," 11 July 2018 Grant, the director of Aston University’s Center for Forensic Linguistics, had just given a talk on how to identify the author of online messages by parsing their language. Chris Stokel-walker, The Atlantic, "The Linguist Who Helps Police Catch Child Predators," 10 July 2018 Intensifying trade tensions have U.S. investors parsing China’s possible responses to the latest Trump administration salvos, concerned about everything from escalating tariffs to currency devaluation. Daniel Kruger, WSJ, "Why Investors Aren’t Worried China Will Weaponize Its Treasurys Hoard," 27 June 2018 Instead of having to parse through the Bible plus several additional reference books, any believing Christian could simply read the Bible along with Scofield. Liya Rechtman,, "When the apocalypse is a feature, not a bug," 12 May 2018 Here, their measurements will be scrutinized, their interviews parsed, their value assessed. Michael Singer, USA TODAY, "John Calipari: 'If an NBA team would lie to me, you’re not coming in my gym'," 18 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But a closer parse suggests that there may be more focus on Kim's halting the existing nuclear program and getting rid of his Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) program — which would be the delivery system for striking the United States. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "Is Mike Pompeo backing off Trump’s demand that North Korea get rid of its nukes?," 14 May 2018 That is too many people for today’s facial recognition technology to parse, said the executive, who asked not to be identified because the information wasn’t public. Paul Mozur, New York Times, "Inside China’s Dystopian Dreams: A.I., Shame and Lots of Cameras," 8 July 2018 So its mélange of hard-to-parse messages is harder to overlook than a couple of imprecise box puzzles. Steven Strom, Ars Technica, "Iconoclasts review: Explore, upgrade, skip the dialogue," 24 Jan. 2018 There was no letter for intelligence analysts to parse. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, "North Korea’s Kim and Trump meet: Andrea Mitchell weighs risks, rewards," 9 Mar. 2018 Four separate articles published in the journal Nature parse data from NASA’s Juno probe, giving scientists a peek into the planet’s mysterious interior, reports Jonathan Amos at the BBC. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "New Juno Data Gives Unprecedented Glimpse Beneath Jupiter’s Stormy Shell," 9 Mar. 2018 Easy-to-parse tasks, like playing video games and naming birds, are of limited value. The Economist, "AI in societyFor artificial intelligence to thrive, it must explain itself," 15 Feb. 2018 If, in your youth, you were primarily exposed to the tiny wonder created by Sir Alec Issigonis during quadrennial visits to the United Kingdom, the Mini could be a confusing thing to parse, brandwise. Davey G. Johnson, Car and Driver, "How Much Art Can You Take? Mini Announces New Logo," 13 Dec. 2017 The Republicans running for governor — Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox and Assemblyman Travis Allen of Huntington Beach — have become skilled practitioners of the parse. Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle, "Worst question to ask a California Republican: Where do you differ from Trump?," 2 Nov. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'parse.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of parse


circa 1568, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


1963, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for parse


Latin pars orationis part of speech


see parse entry 1

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Statistics for parse

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for parse

The first known use of parse was circa 1568

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More Definitions for parse



English Language Learners Definition of parse

grammar : to divide (a sentence) into grammatical parts and identify the parts and their relations to each other

: to study (something) by looking at its parts closely

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Comments on parse

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


to make amends

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