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 The inmates also applied pressure to Woodall’s stab wounds, Sims said. Paul Gattis |, al, "Inmates save life of jail officer under attack by another inmate, sheriff says," 3 May 2021 Over the long term, Tecton Architects has recommended expanding the Henry James middle school to add all sixth-grade classes, relieving pressure at Latimer Lane and the three other elementary schools. Don Stacom,, "Simsbury educators advocate $36.8 million renovation of Latimer Lane School," 3 May 2021 In some cases, the team only had two hours to mix the largest tracks, adding pressure to the process. Brianna Holt, Rolling Stone, "How Young Thug’s YSL Label Put Family First On ‘Slime Language 2’," 3 May 2021 Once the front moves east of the Cascades by early Tuesday morning, a high pressure ridge will move in and build up bringing clearing skies and warmer temperatures through mid week. oregonlive, "Portland metro Monday weather: Chances of light rain; high 64," 3 May 2021 Former President Barack Obama held a more distant relationship with the country and its leader instead of opting to use international pressure and sanctions from the United Nations to coerce cooperation. Lawrence Richard, Washington Examiner, "North Korea warns US of ‘very grave situation’ in response to Biden speech," 2 May 2021 With movie theaters reopening and fall film festivals on the horizon, pressure is building to resolve the situation before next year’s awards season kicks into gear. Los Angeles Times, "Golden Globes organization vowed to change. Then came turmoil. What went wrong?," 2 May 2021 To be sure, museums all over the country have been dealing with economic challenges caused by the pandemic and with staff pressure over diversity issues in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. New York Times, "Amid Signs of Trouble, Can MOCA Find Its Footing?," 2 May 2021 Small appliances Just like large appliances, small appliances, such as waffle makers and pressure cookers, tend to be heavily discounted around big holidays, such as Mother's Day and Memorial Day, especially at retailers such as Kohl's and Amazon. Nishka Dhawan, USA TODAY, "What to buy in May 2021: All the best deals to shop this month," 2 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb As a few guests cleared the table and washed dishes, Jane said, Foppoli grabbed sheets from one of the bedrooms and tried to pressure guests into wearing them as togas. Cynthia Dizikes, San Francisco Chronicle, "How Windsor officials failed to uncover an allegation that Dominic Foppoli assaulted a woman in a hot tub," 22 Apr. 2021 Zambon refused and filed a whistleblower complaint within the WHO alleging that Guerra had tried to pressure him to change the data. Nicole Winfield, Star Tribune, "Italy prosecutors: WHO exec lied about spiked virus report," 9 Apr. 2021 Most companies are woefully unprepared to make quick decisions concerning whether or how to engage when their stakeholders pressure them. Kathy Miller Perkins, Forbes, "Facing Unending Political And Social Challenges, Wise Leaders Prepare To Respond," 9 Apr. 2021 Parents say their lawsuits against three New Jersey school districts helped pressure them to bring students back for some in-person classes, or at least get on that path. Leslie Brody, WSJ, "New Jersey Parents Sue to Reopen Schools After Covid-19 Closures," 27 Mar. 2021 Belarusian security forces detained dozens of people on Thursday as protesters answered a call by opposition figures to ramp up demonstrations against veteran President Alexander Lukashenko to pressure him to resign. NBC News, "Dozens detained as Belarus marks 'Freedom Day' with new protests," 25 Mar. 2021 Andre has continued to pressure Clayton police on social media, directly disputing the agency’s initial statement and tagging Bottoms in his tweets. Henri Hollis, ajc, "Clayton police: Comedian Eric Andre ‘not racially profiled’ in airport incident," 22 Apr. 2021 Along with Dupree and Autry, Barmore could pressure opposing quarterbacks, providing a boost for a secondary in transition. Phil Rogers, Forbes, "Tennessee Titans NFL Draft Preview: Finding Targets For Ryan Tannehill," 21 Apr. 2021 If Tencent learns their identities, Chinese authorities could easily pressure the company to turn over the information, Wang said in an interview. Washington Post, "California lawsuit against Chinese tech giant raises a thorny question: Can the plaintiffs remain anonymous?," 19 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

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pressure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 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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Comments on pressure

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