pro·​cess | \ ˈprä-ˌses How to pronounce process (audio) , ˈprō-, -səs How to pronounce process (audio) \
plural processes\ ˈprä-​ˌse-​səz How to pronounce process (audio) , ˈprō-​ , -​sə-​ , -​ˌsēz How to pronounce process (audio) \

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 How to pronounce process (audio) \
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

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Examples of process in a Sentence

Noun 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 Editor’s Note: Read an interview with Lauren Oyler about her writing process. Lauren Oyler, The Atlantic, "Discovery," 9 Jan. 2021 Chrissy Teigen recently wrote about how sharing the intensely emotional photos after the recent loss of her child helped her process and honor the tragic experience. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "Whitney Port Reveals She Had a Second Pregnancy Loss," 5 Jan. 2021 Our current process, which takes years and more money than anyone but a corporate behemoth can muster, too often squashes idiosyncrasy and cuts off artists from their communities of inspiration. New York Times, "‘Ratatouille’ Review: What’s Small and Hairy With Big Dreams?," 3 Jan. 2021 Wolf also said his perspective on what a journalism career looks like changed during his decision-making process. Washington Post, "Former ESPN esports reporter Jacob Wolf joins Dot Esports," 3 Jan. 2021 No one truly knows what Harbaugh is planning to do — he is known for keeping his decision making process close to his own vest. David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football wants to sign Jim Harbaugh to extension; ball is in coach's court now," 2 Jan. 2021 The Covid-19 pandemic forced the publishing industry to reimagine its process for convincing people to buy its latest offerings. Kate Knibbs, Wired, "Zoom Book Tours: 5 Authors on Publishing in a Pandemic," 1 Jan. 2021 Howard Sherman doesn't mince words about how his move back to Houston has helped fine-tune his creative process. Alison Medley, Chron, "The 10 most fascinating Houstonians I interviewed in 2020," 30 Dec. 2020 Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Cnn Underscored Staff, CNN Underscored, "The best beauty and grooming products we tested in 2020," 29 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This includes the ability to process payment, verify identification and obtain a digital room key. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Casinos focus on health and safety protocols," 13 Dec. 2020 WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe said the state needs more than 30,000 poll workers to staff a general election and communities need more workers than ever to help process absentee ballots and staff in-person voting locations. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, "2020 Daily Trail Markers: Dems' fundraising portal ActBlue announces it raised $1.5 billion in third quarter," 15 Oct. 2020 The city clerk’s office has hired about 15 additional people to help process the paperwork. Christopher Keating,, "Reported responses low in cities as more than 563,000 absentee ballot applications processed statewide," 14 Oct. 2020 Servers hosted on Postal Service property could help process huge data flows from nearby autonomous cars or Internet-of-Things devices. Jared Council, WSJ, "Neither Snow nor Rain nor Latency: USPS Report Explores a 5G Role," 6 Oct. 2020 At moments when infection has been especially widespread, companies have taken days or even weeks to process test results. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, "America Has Not Fixed Its Deadliest Pandemic Errors," 31 Dec. 2020 And a forestry company can be expected to have extensive knowledge of how to process wood. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Coverage of “wooden satellites” misses the point," 29 Dec. 2020 People who get tested at a clinic, hospital or public site don't necessarily know which lab will process the result. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Denver Zoo, resort bubble, nursing home shots: News from around our 50 states," 29 Dec. 2020 In the hours after the attack, M.D. hadn’t begun to process the trauma of her ordeal yet. Jon Schuppe, NBC News, "She didn't know her kidnapper. But he was using Google Maps — and that cracked the case.," 29 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective This may have positioned several large cities that chose to pre-process ballots to deliver election results earlier than expected. Clara Hendrickson, Detroit Free Press, "Fact check: Benson's results timeline is not an attempt to steal election from Trump," 4 Nov. 2020 State Democrats and Republicans both agree that local election workers should be allowed to pre-process ballots early. Kristine Phillips, USA TODAY, "'A lot of chaos': Trump's rhetoric, a global pandemic and a tsunami of lawsuits complicate 2020 election," 22 Oct. 2020 The state can’t yet process unemployment claims from independent contractors and the self-employed, even though the federal government has temporarily extended benefits to those workers, St. Louis Public Radio reported. USA TODAY, "Bagpipe-blowing fire chief, Bruce Springsteen-Jon Bon Jovi benefit, chickens go to waste: News from around our 50 states," 15 Apr. 2020 The recent rise of memes seeming to make light of the Wuhan virus or international tensions offers a glimpse into how teenagers learn about and process world events. Nicole Daniels, New York Times, "Do Memes Make the Internet a Better Place?," 11 Feb. 2020 Knowing that people process things differently and that's OK. Gabe Bergado, Teen Vogue, ""Unbelievable" Actor Danielle Macdonald on How the Series Puts an Important Focus on Survivors of Trauma," 13 Sep. 2019 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Mandatory paperwork, such as death certificates, takes significantly longer to process. Carolyn Said,, "Bay Area funeral homes cope with COVID-19 onslaught, and things could get worse," 11 Jan. 2021 In Los Angeles County, now a national hot spot of the coronavirus crisis, the statistics are hard to process. Los Angeles Times, "Today’s Headlines: ‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’," 4 Jan. 2021 One of the recommendations is to process asylum seekers in or near their home countries. Kate Morrissey, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Back story: solutions-based journalism on the U.S. asylum system," 27 Dec. 2020 Obviously, a mainstream global payment network needs to be able to process payments more quickly than that. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Want to really understand how bitcoin works? Here’s a gentle primer," 26 Dec. 2020 Most of us are still trying to process the head-spinning season two finale of Disney+'s The Mandalorian after the live-action Star Wars series (no spoilers) blew our minds with a totally unexpected reveal. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, "Don't Be Sad Season Two of 'The Mandalorian' is Over, Be Happy That Someone Wrote Lyrics For Its Theme Song," 22 Dec. 2020 Oregon State presently has the capacity to process 857 tests a day but most recently has been doing about 150. oregonlive, "Oregon’s COVID-19 testing capacity, an issue throughout pandemic, to see big boost in 2021," 19 Dec. 2020 At the same time, because meatpackers were unable to process livestock, prices of cattle and hogs fell. Jayson L. Lusk And Michael D. Boehlje, WSJ, "For Farmers and Consumers, a Crazy Year in Food," 16 Dec. 2020 Eventually, though, finding labs able to process 16-millimeter film quickly became too difficult. New York Times, "What if the Great American Novelist Doesn’t Write Novels?," 15 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for process

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for process

Last Updated

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Process.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for process


How to pronounce process (audio) How to pronounce process (audio)

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 How to pronounce process (audio) , 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 How to pronounce process (audio) , ˈprōs- How to pronounce process (audio) , -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- How to pronounce process (audio) \

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
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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