\ ˈpärs How to pronounce parse (audio) , 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 2a) 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

Verb Students were asked to parse the sentence. Economists parsed the census data.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Professional and amateur historians can dispute details of the material presented, and parse the nuances of what is emphasized and sometimes obfuscated. Washington Post, "The Army’s new museum is what we need at this moment of constitutional peril," 12 Nov. 2020 The impact of this huge surge in turnout is one of the most unpredictable facets of the election, as strategists in both parties parse early returns for signs of any advantage. Stephanie Saul, New York Times, "Americans Surge to Polls: ‘I’m Going to Vote Like My Life Depends on It’," 31 Oct. 2020 Holding all these disclosures at the same time gives interested parties less time to parse the information being disclosed, thus harming transparency and market efficiency. WSJ, "Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Twitter Report Earnings — Live Updates," 29 Oct. 2020 However, figuring out who are the most prodigious producers of aerosols has proven difficult—with many biological and physical factors affecting aerosol generation that are tough to parse out or even measure. Fedor Kossakovski, National Geographic, "Why some people are superspreaders and how the body emits coronavirus," 27 Oct. 2020 The Computational Story Lab is part of a small but growing field of researchers who try to parse our national mental health through the prism of our online life. Casey Schwartz New York Times, Star Tribune, "How is everybody doing? Social media show digital trail of anxiety," 24 Oct. 2020 The job of a Facebook moderator is to parse through graphic and disturbing posts day after day, which can be taxing. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "Genpact once again forced employees to come to office during the pandemic—for Facebook this time," 22 Oct. 2020 What once called for asking favors here and there to get resident nerds to parse the data is now available, free and in fine detail, on the web. Scott Burns, Dallas News, "The 2020 wealth scoreboard tells us how we compare when it comes to net worth," 30 Oct. 2020 Patients are often inundated with information that can be difficult to parse through. Claire Goodman, Houston Chronicle, "'From diagnosis to survivorship'- nurse navigator program guides cancer patients through treatment," 14 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Short videos, about a minute long each, introduce a variety of concepts in easy-to-parse, kid-friendly ways. Kate Cox, Ars Technica, "Tips to help your kids understand the COVID-19 pandemic," 19 Apr. 2020 Recent advances in natural language processing—an AI technique that helps machines parse, interpret, and generate text—have proven especially power-hungry. Will Knight, Wired, "AI Can Do Great Things—If It Doesn't Burn the Planet," 21 Jan. 2020 But those take the form of long, difficult-to-parse tax documents, and crafty philanthropists can get around these requirements by starting up offshore foundations. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "The Trump Foundation shows just how preposterously light our oversight of charity is," 20 Dec. 2018 An inversion of that history, in which Americans practice aikido or grow fluent in Japanese social customs in order to get by, is fascinating to watch the show parse. Karen Han, Vox, "The Man in the High Castle season 3 has too many characters, too little time," 6 Oct. 2018 That’s it—no qualifying miles or other nonsense to parse. Ryan Craggs, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Frequent Flier and Airline Rewards Programs in the U.S.," 27 July 2018 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

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

Verb and Noun

Latin pars orationis part of speech

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Time Traveler for parse

Time Traveler

The first known use of parse was circa 1568

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Statistics for parse

Last Updated

15 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Parse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for parse


How to pronounce parse (audio)

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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