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 pressure (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 Mueller noted the slowed pace of the 2021 season has taken some of the pressure off travel for players. Julia Poe,, "Unbeaten Orlando City looks for victory at D.C. United," 15 May 2021 An infusion of billions of dollars in federal relief helped to take some of the pressure off state leaders, but the pandemic’s long-term economic toll is still a concern. Skyler Swisher,, "DeSantis ready to change gambling landscape in Florida with sweeping new deal with Seminoles," 14 May 2021 The transaction followed months of pressure on Marathon from investors including Elliott Management Corp. and D.E. Shaw & Co., for sweeping changes to improve its performance. Dallas News, "Acting FTC chair: 7-Eleven’s $21 billion deal with Speedway ‘illegal’," 14 May 2021 And so far, minority groups have been able to unify under the face of military pressure, with some apologizing for remaining silent during the persecution of the Rohingya in 2017. Washington Post, "The battle for Myanmar is far from over," 13 May 2021 There’s been a lot of pressure throughout the whole year. Shawn Mcfarland,, "Hartford’s Nick Dombkowski, an MLB draft hopeful, tosses a no-hitter as students and coaches protest school’s decision to move to Division III," 13 May 2021 There's a lot of pressure to follow Keene, who never lost a game as the varsity starter. Richard Obert, The Arizona Republic, "'Guys got to fill in': Chandler seeks answers at key positions as spring football begins," 12 May 2021 First, a strong area of high pressure has developed across the Upper Midwest, allowing for cool northerly air to filter south toward the Gulf Coast. Pedram Javaheri, CNN, "March weather in May sees Southeast shiver with record cold not seen in over a century," 12 May 2021 In 2021, a defensive line stacked with depth on the interior should have the 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year back in the mix on the edge, meaning Goff will likely have to contend with plenty of pressure on his Lions' debut. Nicholas Mcgee, Forbes, "San Francisco 49ers Defense Will Relish Jared Goff Reunion In Week 1," 12 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Among Democrats, 53 percent want the U.S. to pressure Israel more — the first time a majority has taken that position. NBC News, "Biden followed pro-Israel U.S. precedent. But new critics the shake status quo.," 14 May 2021 Texas lost its two sack leaders in 2020, Joseph Ossai and Ta’Quon Graham, to the NFL draft, leaving a handful of question marks about which defenders will pressure opposing quarterbacks next season. Dallas News, "5 key issues for Texas football heading into 2021: QB battle, WR development are top concerns," 13 May 2021 The Left’s campaign to pressure the IRS for an administrative fix is noxious and dangerous, regardless of policy considerations. Brian Blase, Forbes, "The “Family Glitch” Administrative Fix Under Consideration By The Biden Administration Remains Both Illegal And Harmful," 13 May 2021 Unions continue to complain about even the current level of financial reporting and will pressure Mr. Walsh to eliminate much if not all of the paltry, current requirements. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "A Police Union Coverup in Boston," 13 May 2021 And with Hamas firing rockets at Jerusalem, the White House is loath to pressure Israel. Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY, "Amid warnings of a 'full-scale war,' Biden administration dispatches envoy to the Middle East," 12 May 2021 His government relented to pressure Wednesday as members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) discussed a proposal by India and South Africa from last October to waive patents for both Covid-19 vaccines and treatments. Angela Dewan, CNN, "The US backs waiving vaccine patents. Now what?," 6 May 2021 Two letters from readers oppose the use of the BDS movement to pressure the Israeli government to end its apartheid oppression of Palestinians. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: Comparing Biden and LBJ, leaving Afghanistan, Israel," 3 May 2021 Giuliani, in his role as former President Trump's personal attorney, was enmeshed in Mr. Trump's 2019 efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials to open investigations into political rivals like Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Jacob Rosen, CBS News, "Legal analyst Rikki Klieman weighs in on Giuliani search warrant - "The Takeout" podcast," 30 Apr. 2021

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

17 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pressure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for pressure



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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