pres·​sure | \ ˈpre-shər How to pronounce pressure (audio) \

Definition of pressure

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the burden of physical or mental distress
b : the constraint of circumstance : the weight of social or economic imposition
2 : the application of force to something by something else in direct contact with it : compression
3 archaic : impression, stamp
4a : the action of a force against an opposing force
b : the force or thrust exerted over a surface divided by its area
5 : the stress or urgency of matters demanding attention : exigency people who work well under pressure
6 : the force of selection that results from one or more agents and tends to reduce a population of organisms population pressure predation pressure
7 : the pressure exerted in every direction by the weight of the atmosphere
8 : a sensation aroused by moderate compression of a body part or surface


pressured; pressuring\ ˈpre-​sh(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce pressuring (audio) \

Definition of pressure (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to apply pressure to
3 : to cook in a pressure cooker

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Other Words from pressure


pressureless adjective

Examples of pressure in a Sentence

Noun Apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding. the pressure of the compressed air inside the chamber The animal's jaws can exert a pressure of more than 750 pounds per square inch. The horse will respond to the slightest pressure of a rider's knee. The fruit yields to gentle pressure when it's ripe. the normal air pressure at sea level He gave in to the social pressures to act and dress like everybody else. She felt a constant pressure to earn more money. Verb his father pressured him to go out for the swim team
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The finances of other countries that are heavily dependent on fossil fuel exports also are likely to come under growing pressure as demand for oil, natural gas and coal diminishes, the report found. Corbin Hiar, Scientific American, "Natural Disasters May Push Global Finances to the Brink," 13 Oct. 2020 Financial stocks also came under pressure following a string of quarterly reports. Anna Hirtenstein, WSJ, "U.S. Stocks Drop as Earnings Season Begins," 13 Oct. 2020 Rain quarterback Amari Yelding, under pressure, underthrew his receiver and Gray played the pass perfectly, stepping in front of the Rain receiver and zig-zagging through would-be tacklers and going into the end zone. Arthur L. Mack, al, "Class 5A No. 2 St. Paul’s builds big lead, rolls past B.C. Rain 56-14," 13 Oct. 2020 Herbert was under consistent pressure, but often used his athletic ability to escape. oregonlive, "Justin Herbert ’may be a force to be reckoned with for years to come'," 13 Oct. 2020 Under pressure from regulators, some carriers have moved to add more backup capacity, either with generators or batteries. Michael Cabanatuan,, "PG&E power shut-offs likely in Bay Area: What you need to know," 12 Oct. 2020 Until James won his first NBA championship, critics pegged him as someone who wilted under pressure and lacked a killer instinct. Mark Medina, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Stop constantly comparing LeBron James and Michael Jordan. Just appreciate them.," 12 Oct. 2020 Under pressure, Wilson dumped the ball out of bounds. Victor Mather, New York Times, "How Russell Wilson’s Latest Clutch Drive Beat the Vikings," 12 Oct. 2020 Roberta McCain was known for her forthright character and grace under pressure. Ellie Bufkin, Washington Examiner, "Roberta McCain, mother of late Sen. John McCain, dies at 108," 12 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Trump, Giuliani, and other allies claim Biden improperly used his position as vice president to pressure Ukraine to fire Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin to protect his son from an investigation into Burisma. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "Hunter Biden set up meeting between Joe Biden, then VP, to Ukrainian businessman: Report," 14 Oct. 2020 This affordable Instant Pot dupe can pressure cook, slow cook, simmer, and saute, as well as a host of other functions. Louryn Strampe, Wired, "The 30 Best Prime Day Deals From Amazon's Biggest Rivals," 14 Oct. 2020 But to solidify those gains, citizens of all ages should pressure schools and governments at all levels to make voting more accessible to the next generation. Casey Dominguez, Fortune, "No more gimmicks: How to actually get more young people voting," 8 Oct. 2020 As part of achieving its overall goal, the NHS will pressure its suppliers to reduce their own emissions. Todd Gillespie,, "U.K.’s Health System Aims to Be World’s First with Net-Zero Emissions," 5 Oct. 2020 The public must pressure their lawmakers to push for reforms that will protect everyone’s most basic human rights, no matter their gender, skin color, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. Editorial Mankato Free Press, Star Tribune, "Allegations of secretive surgeries in Georgia are horrific," 29 Sep. 2020 The Palestinians had hoped to pressure Israel by forcing it to assume more of the burden of its half-century occupation of the territory. Joseph Krauss, Star Tribune, "Gazans left stranded abroad by Israeli-Palestinian standoff," 30 Sep. 2020 Pelosi also said in the interview with Hayes that House Democrats would not threaten to shut down the government to pressure the Senate to keep the seat vacant until after the election. Grace Segers, CBS News, "House to vote on bill to fund government through December," 22 Sep. 2020 Even if Ivey wins re-election, some residents think Edmond’s campaign may pressure him to make changes. NBC News, "The sheriff's race pitting Trump against Black Lives Matter," 19 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pressure.' 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 pressure


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


1938, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pressure


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin pressura, from Latin, action of pressing, pressure, from pressus, past participle of premere

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Time Traveler for pressure

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for pressure

Last Updated

19 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pressure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for pressure


How to pronounce pressure (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pressure

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the weight or force that is produced when something presses or pushes against something else
: the action of pressing or pushing against something
: the weight of the air in the Earth's atmosphere



English Language Learners Definition of pressure (Entry 2 of 2)

chiefly US : to use pressure to force or try to force (someone) to do something


pres·​sure | \ ˈpre-shər How to pronounce pressure (audio) \

Kids Definition of pressure

1 : the action of pushing steadily against
2 : a force or influence that cannot be avoided social pressure
3 : the force with which one body presses against another
4 : the need to get things done Mom works well under pressure.


pres·​sure | \ ˈpresh-ər How to pronounce pressure (audio) \

Medical Definition of pressure

1 : the burden of mental or physical distress especially from grief, illness, or adversity
2 : the application of force to something by something else in direct contact with it : compression
3a : the action of a force against some opposing force : a force in the nature of a thrust distributed over a surface
b : the force or thrust exerted over a surface divided by the area of the surface
6 : a touch sensation aroused by moderate compression of the skin

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