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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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

In a federal court filing Thursday, the Nelson campaign and the Florida Democratic Party argued that a signature-matching process for deciding whether to count mail-in and provisional ballots is unconstitutional. Alex Leary, WSJ, "Tensions Rise and Accusations Fly as Florida Barrels Toward a Recount," 9 Nov. 2018 Chief scientist, still wanted International astronomers say there are simply not that many radio astronomers in China qualified to work with the technical data collected by the radio telescope and process it for research purposes. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "China still having trouble staffing up its mega-telescope," 5 Nov. 2018 This process then causes your good friend bloat to say hello. Colleen Stinchcombe, Woman's Day, "Why Am I Always Bloated?," 29 Oct. 2018 There's no reason to believe this process is restricted to our planet. Mike Wall,, "Jupiter Moon Europa's Jagged Ice Towers Could Imperil Robot Landers," 8 Oct. 2018 He was placed in a holding cell but required medical attention during the booking process, Kelley told Raisa Habersham, ajc, "Cherokee County inmate dies hours after arrest," 13 July 2018 Immigrant advocates, however, say the new asylum rules arbitrarily remove domestic violence and gang violence from consideration during the asylum process, even though courts have determined that both can be reasons for receiving asylum. Pamela Ren Larson, azcentral, "Trump administration issues new asylum rules aimed at families arriving at border," 13 July 2018 Many are referred to the center by Orange County Jail staffers, who find possible victims while conducting assessments during the intake process for new inmates. Stephen Hudak,, "Orange County's crisis shelter for human-trafficking victims is full — and that may be a good thing," 12 July 2018 While Intel notified a group of international private tech firms—including some in China—during this process, DHS and the US government in general didn’t learn of the situation until it was publicly disclosed at the beginning of January. Lily Hay Newman, WIRED, "Senators Fear Meltdown and Spectre Disclosure Gave China an Edge," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Suggested serving: While the body has the ability to process up to 30 grams of protein every few hours, Dr. Bowe suggests tossing one tablespoon of a collagen powder into a smoothie, coffee, or soup. Amy Capetta, Woman's Day, "5 Anti-Aging Supplements That May Actually Work," 16 Oct. 2018 The plan, outlined in a filing Friday afternoon in San Diego federal court, aims to process about 200 children age 5 and older per day, with a rollout this weekend. Kristina Davis,, "Trump administration outlines plan to reunify remaining 2,500 separated children," 14 July 2018 In the case of slime molds, their cytoskeleton may form smart, complex networks able to process sensory information. Katia Moskvitch, WIRED, "Slime Molds Remember—But Do They Learn?," 14 July 2018 Ramsay takes us back and forth in time, into reality and out, as Phoenix's character tries to process the world around him. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Here are the best movies of 2018 (so far)," 11 July 2018 Nor does the ability to process payments in Vietnam smooth transactions in Brazil or in Nigeria, with their vastly different banking and regulatory systems. The Economist, "Chinese and US tech giants go at it in emerging markets," 5 July 2018 The orchid grower argues the proposal fails to properly carry out the law, which includes giving preference for up to two medical marijuana licenses to applicants who own facilities that were used to process citrus. Dara Kam,, "'Citrus preference' spurs medical marijuana license dispute," 3 July 2018 Health conditions: For example, genetic enzyme deficiencies may affect the body's ability to process alcohol. Kathleen Purvis And Myah Ward, charlotteobserver, "Here's what you need to know about drunk driving in the Carolinas," 29 June 2018 That problem is how to process the visual world around us. Jeffery Delviscio, STAT, "In startled fruit flies, hints of how our brain circuits work — and fail," 25 June 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

What makes him such an effective shot-stopper, able to plunge one side or the other as fast as his eyes and brain can process it, is his spring. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "France to Hugo Lloris: Get Back in Goal," 13 July 2018 Since at least December, asylum seekers have often had to wait weeks for the San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego to have room to process them. Kate Morrissey, Anchorage Daily News, "Illegal border crossings decrease for the first time in 2018," 7 July 2018 Since at least December, asylum seekers have often had to wait weeks for the San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego to have room to process them. Kate Morrissey,, "Illegal border crossings decrease for the first time in 2018," 6 July 2018 After processing they would be airlifted back to their homes in Sinaloa, Mexico. Brenda Medina And Glenn Garvin, miamiherald, "Trump dialed it up to 10, but his predecessors often treated migrants with disdain," 2 July 2018 Now, Perry wants to add to that, bringing in U.S. pipeline developers to expand the play’s infrastructure and petrochemical companies to process the hydrocarbons once they’ve been moved out of the isolated shale fields. Jonathan Gilbert,, "Rick Perry Wants to Help Argentina Be More Like Texas," 16 June 2018 About 30 percent of all household materials discarded in recycling bins in Florida are actually not recyclable at curbside and clog machinery at processing centers, state statistics show. Stephen Hudak,, "Orange County peering into recycling bins to check for no-nos like greasy pizza boxes, plastic bags," 28 June 2018 Fields found the market around 2012 and bought it off a former owner and his son, who'd started processing caviar about five years before. Bailey Loosemore, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky is swimming with potential to take over the US caviar market," 28 June 2018 Irlande Germain is project manager for Tellus LLC, a provider of mobile care delivery, Electronic Visit Verification (eVV) and claims processing technology designed for the Home Health and Long-Term Care Markets, in Deerfield Beach. Cindy Kent,, "Career Spotlight: Irlande Germain, career building, one project at a time," 22 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

15 Nov 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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Comments on process

What made you want to look up process? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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