\ 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 Netflix’s viewership metrics are notoriously hard to parse on their own, and even harder to compare accurately to benchmarks the industry uses, like ticket sales. Adam Epstein, Quartz, "This weekend’s streaming movies could preview the future of entertainment," 11 June 2020 Leaders need to parse through the employee feedback, particularly around unstructured comment feedback. Doug Claffey,, "Top Workplaces Cincinnati: Good leaders value employee feedback, even if it's negative," 10 June 2020 The world is being reshaped now, as people mourn those who have died from COVID-19, and parse both the sense of isolation and the structural economic inequity that the pandemic has exacerbated. Teresa Mathew, The New Yorker, "Professional Mourners’ Laments from Quarantine," 9 June 2020 Setting the prices and wages on these apps are complex algorithms that parse every tap and swipe and relentlessly seek to optimize worker productivity and customer revenue. Eoin O'carroll, The Christian Science Monitor, "Uber and under: Why gig workers struggle in pandemic," 9 June 2020 Reporters Stephanie Innes and Alison Steinbach will join Seely to parse through the data's nuances and clarify how the coronavirus is taking shape in Arizona. Taylor Seely, azcentral, "What does Arizona's COVID-19 data mean? Is the situation improving?," 8 June 2020 Green Card members will receive up to $80 in statement credits for U.S. wireless phone services parsed out as up to $10 per month from May through December. Eric Rosen, Condé Nast Traveler, "American Express Travel Cards Now Earn More Points on Groceries and Streaming," 1 May 2020 So experts will be looking closely at the data to try to parse out how and when to give the drug. Andrew Joseph, STAT, "Data for Gilead’s potential coronavirus therapy are coming soon. Here’s what you need to know," 6 Apr. 2020 But without her husband or her career as a writer and professor, solitude slowly takes on the air of normalcy, and she is left to parse out where her new self fits in with the old. Francisco Cantú, New York Times, "In Her First Adult Novel in 14 Years, Julia Alvarez Travels Home," 5 Apr. 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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Last Updated

24 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Parse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jul. 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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More from Merriam-Webster on parse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for parse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with parse

Nglish: Translation of parse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of parse for Arabic Speakers

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