pre·​serve | \ pri-ˈzərv How to pronounce preserve (audio) \
preserved; preserving

Definition of preserve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to keep safe from injury, harm, or destruction : protect
2a : to keep alive, intact, or free from decay
b : maintain
3a : to keep or save from decomposition
b : to can, pickle, or similarly prepare for future use
4 : to keep up and reserve for personal or special use

intransitive verb

1 : to make preserves
2 : to raise and protect game for purposes of sport
3 : to be able to be preserved (as by canning)



Definition of preserve (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : fruit canned or made into jams or jellies or cooked whole or in large pieces in a syrup so as to keep its shape often used in plural
2 : an area restricted for the protection and preservation of natural resources (such as animals or plants) a game preserve for regulated hunting or fishing nature preserves
3 : something regarded as reserved for certain persons

Other Words from preserve


preservability \ pri-​ˌzər-​və-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce preserve (audio) \ noun
preservable \ pri-​ˈzər-​və-​bəl How to pronounce preserve (audio) \ adjective
preserver \ pri-​ˈzər-​vər How to pronounce preserve (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for preserve

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of preserve in a Sentence

Verb The fossil was well preserved. These laws are intended to help preserve our natural resources. They are fighting to preserve their rights as citizens. The peaches are preserved in syrup. Salt can be used to preserve meat. Noun a jar of strawberry preserve Game preserves allow only carefully controlled hunting and fishing. The military was once an all-male preserve. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb For crops such as grains, oilseeds and pulses, which benefit from being processed in large quantities, there is a need for dedicated parallel supply chains that can preserve the identity of crops that have been grown sustainably. Anastasia Volkova, Forbes, 5 May 2022 One traveler, who only gave his last name, Adhikari, to preserve his privacy, described the stress a flight cancellation can cause. Dominic Gates, Anchorage Daily News, 4 May 2022 The impulse to preserve may be a noble one, but the question remains: who—or what—is really being protected? Eleanor Cummins, The New Republic, 28 Apr. 2022 The process is similar to a common industrial treatment to preserve rubber, according to a recent paper published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 26 Apr. 2022 The Rolls Royce of the wardrobe is Japanese brand Nakata Hanger, whose beechwood hangers with trouser bar preserve the contours of the shoulder. Alexander Freeling, Robb Report, 26 Apr. 2022 Jobe is among many Black entrepreneurs who have created businesses that focus on products that preserve the earth. NBC News, 22 Apr. 2022 One is a connectivity ordinance to preserve the township’s existing gridded street network. Alixel Cabrera, The Salt Lake Tribune, 20 Apr. 2022 Russellville keeper Noe Jimenez, who finished with nine saves, and defender Alex Bonilla, who had a pair of the saves in the game, were up to the task to preserve the lead. Harold Mcilvain, Arkansas Online, 9 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In its final report in January about the investigation, the FBI wrote that Laundrie claimed responsibility for his fiancée's death in a notebook found near his body in a Florida nature preserve. CBS News, 2 May 2022 The arboretum routinely brings in a herd of rented goats from Rent-a-Ruminant Texas to graze on portions of the preserve rather than hiring gas-guzzling mowers to landscape the area. Jay R. Jordan, Chron, 18 Apr. 2022 This swift dive into a family-friendly corner of the preserve is one to keep in mind for entertaining visitors or just wallowing in local flora and fauna without a lot of fuss. Mare Czinar, The Arizona Republic, 25 Mar. 2022 Nature preserve featuring pine flatwoods and wetlands. Cindy Kent, Sun Sentinel, 15 Apr. 2022 Its name was changed to Discovery Island in 1977, and the 11.5-acre nature preserve — accessible by boat — operated until April 8, 1999, about a year after Animal Kingdom opened. Elizabeth Rhodes, Travel + Leisure, 2 Apr. 2022 Of that, $13 million is being used for preserve, facility and trail improvements, while $12 million is for land preservation over the course of a five-year capital plan, according to Cindy Cain, the district’s public information officer. Bill Jones,, 20 Mar. 2022 The National Capital Commission, the federal agency responsible for overseeing the canal skating, began working this year with engineers and scientists at Carleton University to find ways to extend, or at least preserve, the season. New York Times, 19 Mar. 2022 As a historian, my research and writing rely on previous generations' efforts to record their present and preserve relics of their past. Cristina Florea, CNN, 4 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of preserve


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1698, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for preserve


Middle English, from Medieval Latin praeservare, from Late Latin, to observe beforehand, from Latin prae- + servare to keep, guard, observe — more at conserve

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The first known use of preserve was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Preserve.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for preserve


pre·​serve | \ pri-ˈzərv How to pronounce preserve (audio) \
preserved; preserving

Kids Definition of preserve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to keep or save from injury, loss, or ruin : protect The laws will help preserve rain forests.
2 : to prepare (as by canning or pickling) fruits or vegetables to be kept for future use
3 : maintain sense 2, continue preserve silence

Other Words from preserve

preserver noun



Kids Definition of preserve (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a sweet food made of fruit cooked in sugar often used in pl. strawberry preserves
2 : an area where land and animals are protected


transitive verb
pre·​serve | \ pri-ˈzərv How to pronounce preserve (audio) \
preserved; preserving

Medical Definition of preserve

1 : to keep alive, intact, or free from decay
2 : to keep or save from decomposition


transitive verb
pre·​serve | \ pri-ˈzərv How to pronounce preserve (audio) \
preserved; preserving

Legal Definition of preserve

1 : to keep safe from injury, harm, or destruction expenses necessary to preserve the property
2a : to keep valid, intact, or in existence (as pending a proceeding) the right of a trial by jury shall be preservedU.S. Constitution amend. VII the dismissal of a chapter 7 case…reinstates certain transfers voided or preserved in the case— J. H. Williamson
b : to maintain for use or consideration at a later time especially by keeping a record of deposed the witness to preserve her testimony a party has the option of preserving the objection raised— J. H. Friedenthal et al.

Other Words from preserve

preservation \ ˌpre-​zər-​ˈvā-​shən How to pronounce preserve (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on preserve

Nglish: Translation of preserve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of preserve for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about preserve


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