pro·​gram | \ ˈprō-ˌgram, -grəm \

Definition of program

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 [ Late Latin programma, from Greek ] : a public notice
2a : a brief usually printed outline of the order to be followed, of the features to be presented, and the persons participating (as in a public performance)
b : the performance of a program especially : a performance broadcast on radio or television
3 : a plan or system under which action may be taken toward a goal
6a : a sequence of coded instructions that can be inserted into a mechanism (such as a computer)
b dated : a complete plan for solving a problem by the use of a mechanism (such as a computer) that includes both instructions to be inserted into the mechanism and plans for human activities such as interpreting output
c : the genes or sequences of DNA or RNA that are part of an organism or cell and encode or determine a process, trait, or behavior … a mouse in which a tiny but crucial bit of the genetic program has been eliminated.— Bruce Fellman also : a process, trait, or behavior determined by or as if by the genetic material of an organism Orb webs are marvels of geometry and construction. They are built according to a complex behavioral program, which is highly flexible in some respects and very precise in others. — Michael H. Robinson


pro·​gram | \ ˈprō-ˌgram, -grəm\
variants: or less commonly
programmed or programed; programming or programing

Definition of program (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to arrange or furnish a program of or for : bill
b : to enter in a program
2 : to work out a sequence of operations to be performed by (a mechanism, such as a computer) : to provide with a program
3a : to insert a program for (a particular action) into or as if into a mechanism (such as a computer)
b : to control by or as if by a program
c(1) : to code in an organism's program
(2) : to provide with a biological program cells programmed to synthesize hemoglobin
4 : to predetermine the thinking, behavior, or operations of as if by computer programming children are programmed into violence— Lisa A. Richette

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Other Words from program


programmability \ (ˌ)prō-​ˌgra-​mə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē \ noun
programmable \ ˈprō-​ˌgra-​mə-​bəl \ adjective or noun

Synonyms for program

Synonyms: Noun

agenda, calendar, docket, schedule, timetable

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Examples of program in a Sentence


a program of regular dental checkups the program will tell us the scheduled order of musical numbers


He programmed the computer to calculate his monthly expenses and earnings. She is learning how to program in school. Can you help me program my cell phone?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Malpaso’s four-part, single-intermission program yielded mixed results, but included two especially engaging entries over its 90 minutes. Robert Greskovic, WSJ, "Fleet-Footed Cultural Ambassadors," 14 Jan. 2019 Certain table tennis clubs host clinics for those with Alzheimer’s, for instance, and others have specific programs for players with autism or Parkinson’s. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "A Look Inside the Challenging and Misunderstood Sport of Table Tennis," 9 Jan. 2019 New York was one of them, with Mayor Mike Bloomberg famously canceling the city's recycling program shortly after taking office. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Bikes, bowling balls, and the delicate balancing act that is modern recycling," 31 Dec. 2018 Some school do not accept transfers mid-year and others require transfer students to complete specific programs before being able to qualify. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "How To Transfer Colleges When You Think You Want To Switch Schools," 27 Dec. 2018 Hike, paddle board, meditate, and immerse yourself into Exhale's award-winning fitness program with classes Core Fusion bootcamp, restorative chill yoga, and more. Micaela English, Town & Country, "8 Wellness Retreats To Reset Your Body And Mind," 17 Dec. 2018 Bredesen crunched all these results with a computer algorithm that calculated a complex 36-point personalized therapeutic program to counteract Weinrich’s specific constellation of deficits. Linda Marsa, Discover Magazine, "A New Treatment for Alzheimer's? It Starts With Lifestyle," 16 Nov. 2018 Fans of the program praise the freshness of the meals, and note that the recipes are simple enough for weeknights, while also being creative and interesting. SELF, "The Best Meal-Kit Delivery Services to Try in 2019," 1 Jan. 2019 In the 2000s, Washington barred U.S. institutions from dealing with Banco Delta Asia, a Macau bank that handled North Korean funds, and went after North Korean banks that supported the country’s nuclear program. Niharika Mandhana And Aruna Viswanatha, WSJ, "North Korea Built an Alternative Financial System Using a Shadowy Network of Traders," 28 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Born into a Jewish family that found violence repugnant, Mr. Rosenblatt recalls being bullied as a child and programmed to run away from fights—and not with the intention of fighting another day. Gordon Marino, WSJ, "‘Why We Fight’ Review: Punch-Drunk Love," 10 Jan. 2019 AltSpace's virtual world had no chapel, so VR Church met in an office building until a member built – that is, programmed – a custom glass cathedral. Samantha Swindler,, "A virtual reality baptism will strengthen Oregon man's faith," 19 May 2018 And if prices drop, many are programmed to sell even more. Gunjan Banerji, WSJ, "Behind the Market Swoon: The Herdlike Behavior of Computerized Trading," 25 Dec. 2018 The Bee, which drives itself and is fully automated, is programmed to leave the Hive and fly around the house, using the Sunflowers as its map. Brittney Morgan, House Beautiful, "Drones Might Just Be The Future Of Home Security," 7 Dec. 2018 To ensure maximum profit, Andr/Clickr-ad apps were programmed to run automatically each time an infected phone was rebooted, by using a BOOT_COMPLETED broadcast. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "22 apps with 2 million+ Google Play downloads had a malicious backdoor," 6 Dec. 2018 That is, if our internal 24-hour clock—known as the body's circadian rhythm, or internal daily time table—is programmed properly to get the job done. Kate Branch, Vogue, "The Healthy Diet of the Future Focuses On When—Not Just What—You Eat," 1 Aug. 2018 Because of Twitter's open structure, developers can easily program bots to do simple tasks. Dakota Crawford, Indianapolis Star, "How the account that lied about Harley-Davidson's CEO used IndyStar to spread fake news," 28 June 2018 Morrison, who works remotely from San Francisco, has programmed films for Real Art Ways since 1996. Susan Dunne,, "Real Art Ways Film Programmer John Morrison Indicted On Child Porn Charges," 27 June 2018

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


1633, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1846, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for program


French programme agenda, public notice, from Greek programma, from prographein to write before, from pro- before + graphein to write — more at carve

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Statistics for program

Last Updated

19 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for program

The first known use of program was in 1633

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More Definitions for program



English Language Learners Definition of program

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a plan of things that are done in order to achieve a specific result

: a set of instructions that tell a computer what to do

: a thin book or a piece of paper that gives information about a concert, play, sports game, etc.



English Language Learners Definition of program (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give (a computer) a set of instructions to perform a particular action : to create a program for (a computer)

: to give (a machine) a set of instructions to perform a particular action

: to make (a person or animal) behave or think in a particular way


pro·​gram | \ ˈprō-ˌgram, -grəm\

Kids Definition of program

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a brief statement or written outline (as of a concert, play, ceremony, or religious service)
2 : performance sense 2 a television program
3 : a plan of action … this little town had the most successful school lunch program in the state.— Andrew Clements, Frindle
4 : a set of step-by-step instructions that tell a computer to do something with data


programmed\ ˈprō-​ˌgramd, -​grəmd \; programming

Kids Definition of program (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give (a computer) a set of instructions : provide with a program


variants: or chiefly British programme \ ˈprō-​ˌgram , -​grəm \

Medical Definition of program

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a sequence of coded instructions (as genes or behavioral responses) that is part of an organism


transitive verb
variants: or chiefly British programme
programmed or programed; programming or programing

Medical Definition of program (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to code in an organism's program
2 : to provide with a biological program cells programmed to synthesize hemoglobin

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More from Merriam-Webster on program

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with program

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for program

Spanish Central: Translation of program

Nglish: Translation of program for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of program for Arabic Speakers

Comments on program

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


to gather or build up little by little

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