pro·​cess | \ˈprä-ˌses, ˈprō-, -səs \
plural processes\ˈprä-​ˌse-​səz, ˈprō-​, -​sə-​, -​ˌsēz \

Definition of process 

(Entry 1 of 4)

1a : progress, advance in the process of time

b : something going on : proceeding

2a(1) : a natural phenomenon marked by gradual changes that lead toward a particular result the process of growth

(2) : a continuing natural or biological activity or function such life processes as breathing

b : a series of actions or operations conducing to an end especially : a continuous operation or treatment especially in manufacture

3a : the whole course of proceedings in a legal action

b : the summons, mandate, or writ used by a court to compel the appearance of the defendant in a legal action or compliance with its orders

4 : a prominent or projecting part of an organism or organic structure a bone process a nerve cell process


verb (1)
processed; processing; processes

Definition of process (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

1a : to proceed against by law : prosecute

b(1) : to take out a summons against

(2) : to serve a summons on

2a : to subject to a special process or treatment (as in the course of manufacture or film development)

b(1) : to subject to or handle through an established usually routine set of procedures process insurance claims

(2) : to integrate sensory information received so that an action or response is generated the brain processes visual images relayed from the retina

(3) : to subject to examination or analysis computers process data

c : to work (hair) into a conk



Definition of process (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : treated or made by a special process especially when involving synthesis or artificial modification

2 : made by or used in a mechanical or photomechanical duplicating process

3 : of or involving illusory effects usually introduced during processing of the film


verb (2)
pro·​cess | \prə-ˈses \
processed; processing; processes

Definition of process (Entry 4 of 4)

intransitive verb

chiefly British

: to move in a procession

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Synonyms for process

Synonyms: Noun

course, operation, procedure, proceeding

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Examples of process in a Sentence


How does the election process work? Learning a foreign language can be a long process. We're remodeling our house. The whole process is expected to take a few months. Breathing and the circulation of blood are life processes. a bony process on the foot
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Federal work-study isn’t guaranteed from year to year, so even students who were awarded this type of aid in the past need to go through the process. Cheryl Winokur Munk, WSJ, "Being Smart About Work-Study at College," 7 Dec. 2018 But that plan was drafted through a community-input process in 24 open public meetings. Danny Westneat, The Seattle Times, "Political trouble was ‘baked into the cake’ of Seattle’s sweeping upzoning plan," 5 Dec. 2018 Having been through the college admissions process a year ago, my heart goes out to any high school seniors that are currently freaking out about their applications. Fresh U, Teen Vogue, "7 Things You Should Actually Do When Applying to Colleges," 20 Nov. 2018 The Lius guided guests including Demi Moore, Rachel Zoe, and Angela Sarafyan through the brand’s personalization process. Julia Russo, Vogue, "Sara and Erin Foster Welcome Leatherology to the West Coast," 19 Nov. 2018 If so, did that help your process in this partnership with Corbett? Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Martyn Lawrence Bullard's Corbett Lighting Collection Is Gorgeously Extravagant," 14 Nov. 2018 This back-and-forth is pretty understandable as Cheryl is in the process of discovering her sexuality and her home life is falling apart. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Everything That Happened On "Riverdale" Season 2," 8 Oct. 2018 But those who have been involved in a TJ process know keeping communities intact is a lot easier said than done. Kim Tran, Teen Vogue, "Transformative Justice, Explained," 15 Nov. 2018 Mudroom or playroom-ready lockers from Mustard in fun colors make dressing down or clearing up a quick process. Carisha Swanson, House Beautiful, "Go Inside The London Design Festival, AKA Fashion Week For Decor Addicts," 2 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Our culture doesn’t do a great job with processing death. Chelsea Gray, Vox, "What I wish my friends had said to me after my mom died," 20 Nov. 2018 The sophisticated signal-processing capabilities of the sensor chip make all of this possible. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Why millions of lasers on a chip could be the future of lidar," 8 Nov. 2018 Simmons says he's entered counseling to try to process the alleged assault. CBS News, "Black teen speaks out after woman is charged with attacking him at pool," 14 July 2018 Type 1 diabetes is much less common than type 2 (which affects the way the body processes blood sugar); only about 5 percent of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Korin Miller, SELF, "The Diabetes Symptom That Finally Helped Nick Jonas Get a Diagnosis," 19 Nov. 2018 The suit was filed electronically on Sunday but won’t be processed by the court until Tuesday, after the Veterans Day holiday. Cameron Mcwhirter, WSJ, "Democrat Takes Legal Steps in Georgia Governor’s Race," 12 Nov. 2018 The brain processes the information gathered by the three types of cone cells to give us our perception of color. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Spanish scientists: EnChroma glasses won’t fix your color blindness," 6 Nov. 2018 Then, an algorithm—designed by human programmers and data scientists—processes those images and uses machine learning to analyze them by cross referencing the image to other data sources. Diana Budds, Curbed, "Facial recognition is becoming one of the 21st century’s biggest public space issues," 19 Oct. 2018 The data is then processed by the app, which creates a list of possible targets based on estimates of the plane's trajectory - triggering warning messages on social media, and air raid sirens in towns and cities throughout the area. David Nath, Fox News, "Social media saves lives in Syria's Civil War," 21 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The Google Assistant, for example, can already now process multiple requests at once. Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY, "5G to AR: Here are 7 technologies to watch in 2018," 2 Jan. 2018 People process things differently and at different rates. Richard Asa,, "When your ex finds someone new," 31 Aug. 2017 Around 80% of people process language on the left, or the analytical, side of the brain, Dr. Pantelyat says, and everyone processes music on both sides of the brain. Heidi Mitchell, WSJ, "Does Listening to Music Improve Your Focus?," 26 July 2017 Process garlic and shallots until finely chopped, then stir into tomato mixture. Jill Wendholt Silva, kansascity, "Five easy (and, shhh, healthy) recipes for the Fourth," 3 July 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

First of all, vegan isn't synonymous with natural, organic, or even cruelty-free (in fact, vegan makeup can sometimes be even more chemically-processed). Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Best Vegan and Cruelty-Free Makeup," 29 Nov. 2018 Since most commercially available vinegars are highly processed, good bacteria is hard to come by. Jaclyn London, Ms, Rd, Cdn, Good Housekeeping, "The Real Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar, According to a Nutritionist," 21 Nov. 2018 So, for example, the server will dispatch messages which are only intended by design for processing client side, even when running in server mode. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Trivial authentication bypass in libssh leaves servers wide open," 17 Oct. 2018 Other Chinese companies are also pouring resources into developing AI chips, which typically feature unique designs optimized for processing large amounts of data at once. Dan Strumpf, WSJ, "China’s Huawei Seeks to Chip Away at Silicon Valley’s AI Supremacy," 10 Oct. 2018 Voting along party lines, the Federal Communications Commission overhauled its rules for processing online consumer complaints. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner is being challenged by the Department of Justice," 13 July 2018 And White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who like Sessions is a conservative Christian, also pointed to the Bible during a June news briefing when affirming the importance of the Bible in processing America's laws. Eugene Scott, Washington Post, "Trump allies keep using the Bible in the immigration debate," 12 July 2018 Just how many children remained in the custody of federal agencies was unclear, largely because of the confusing web of agencies responsible for processing and detaining children and their parents. Noah Bierman,, "Reuniting families who were separated at the border could take months, federal officials warn," 23 June 2018 The report found that the plan failed only when the two U.S. banks refused to participate, citing the complexity and the unwanted appearance involved in processing an Iranian transaction. Adam Shaw, Fox News, "Trump calls for probe into claims Obama administration tried to give Iran access to US banks," 7 June 2018

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


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

Verb (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1888, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

1814, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for process


Middle English proces, from Anglo-French procés, from Latin processus, from procedere

Verb (2)

back-formation from procession entry 1

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Statistics for process

Last Updated

13 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for process

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

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More Definitions for process



English Language Learners Definition of process

: a series of actions that produce something or that lead to a particular result

: a series of changes that happen naturally

medical : something that sticks out of something else


pro·​cess | \ˈprä-ˌses, ˈprō-\

Kids Definition of process

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a series of actions, motions, or operations leading to some result the manufacturing process

2 : a series of changes that occur naturally the growth process


processed; processing

Kids Definition of process (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to change by a special treatment The fruit is picked and processed for shipment.

2 : to take care of according to a routine His job is to process insurance claims.

3 : to take in and organize for use Computers process data.


pro·​cess | \ˈpräs-ˌes, ˈprōs-, -əs\

Medical Definition of process 

1a : a natural progressively continuing operation or development marked by a series of gradual changes that succeed one another in a relatively fixed way and lead toward a particular result or end the process of growth the process of digestion

b : a natural continuing activity or function such life processes as breathing and the circulation of the blood

2 : a prominent or projecting part of an organism or organic structure a bone process a nerve cell process

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pro·​cess | \ˈprä-ˌses, ˈprō- \

Legal Definition of process 

1 : a continuous operation, art, or method especially in manufacture whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process…may obtain a patent thereforU.S. Code

2a : procedure sense 1 — see also abuse of process, due process

b : a means (as a summons) used to compel a defendant to appear in court broadly : a means by which a court acquires or exercises jurisdiction over a person or property — see also mesne process — compare notice, service

Note: In civil procedure, service of a summons on a defendant is considered constitutionally sufficient process, although usually a copy of the complaint must also be provided according to the local rule of procedure.

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More from Merriam-Webster on process

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with process

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for process

Spanish Central: Translation of process

Nglish: Translation of process for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of process for Arabic Speakers

Comments on process

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having a pattern of small flowers

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