\ 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 But ultimately, the data from India is too thin to parse the distribution of variants around the country., "India blames a virus variant as its COVID-19 crisis deepens," 28 Apr. 2021 Still, one sympathizes with translators forced to parse such a tricky word, and hesitates to forsake the beautiful inheritance of those earlier choices. Casey Cep, The New Yorker, "What We Can and Can’t Learn from a New Translation of the Gospels," 28 Apr. 2021 That can make the line between a social and professional environment harder to parse, which can potentially lead to dangerous situations. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, "How Wine Country's insular nature played a role in Dominic Foppoli's alleged misconduct," 14 Apr. 2021 In addition to the usual challenges of translating Japanese, a tough language to parse with nuance, the trilogy’s wide-ranging subjects and social milieus would test any translator’s lexicon. Paula L. Woods, Los Angeles Times, "The star Japanese crime novelist almost too good to translate," 20 Apr. 2021 Choi could fluently and sensitively parse all this. Ed Caesar, The New Yorker, "The Incredible Rise of North Korea’s Hacking Army," 19 Apr. 2021 Tim pops up on Fox and CNN to parse terrorism cases; Jim has become a star podcaster, hosting a handful of shows that reach a million and a half listeners a month. Rachel Monroe, Vulture, "The Criminal Minds of Jim and Tim," 15 Mar. 2021 First among them is to read his fiction through the lens of autobiography, to parse which lover, wife or literary rival found its way into his often self-referential fiction. Mark Athitakis, USA TODAY, "Engrossing Philip Roth biography dishes on scandals, women, but is light on artist's craft," 5 Apr. 2021 How effective the various vaccines are for younger age groups is a more open question which will take time to parse. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "Where we stand on COVID vaccines and kids," 26 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun More details are also likely to emerge in the days to come, as reporters and the public parse the tome. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, "Essential California: What to know about the stimulus package," 22 Dec. 2020 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

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

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Parse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on parse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for parse

Nglish: Translation of parse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of parse for Arabic Speakers

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