pro·​gram | \ ˈprō-ˌgram How to pronounce program (audio) , -grəm How to pronounce program (audio) \

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 How to pronounce program (audio) , -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 How to pronounce programmability (audio) \ noun
programmable \ ˈprō-​ˌgra-​mə-​bəl How to pronounce programmable (audio) \ 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

The voices and experiences of young people living with HIV should be centered in any programs, policies, and conversations about them. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "What These 4 Young People Want You to Know About HIV," 10 Apr. 2019 Joe Zee brought some levity to the program, highlighting student achievement and the important work of the school. Natalie Nudell, Vogue, "Beneath the American Museum of Natural History’s Big Blue Whale, Fashion’s Finest Attended the Sustainability-Themed FIT Gala," 5 Apr. 2019 Though, as Kathie Lee knows from her long career on morning programs, sitting in someone else's chair is no easy feat. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Today' Star Kathie Lee Gifford on Leaving Hoda Kotb and a "Million Memories" Behind," 5 Apr. 2019 The Army’s Army’s Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport program, or SMET, is meant to produce a robot that can carry 1,000 pounds of supplies for a nine-man infantry squad. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Grizzly Is a Rugged Tank Robot That Could Carry a Soldier’s Stuff," 29 Mar. 2019 An exclusive clip from the program (above) shows Charles speaking with his equerry and private secretary, mapping out his schedule for the weeks ahead. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Prince Charles at 70 Offers a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Royal Life," 21 Mar. 2019 Women@NASA offers an out-of-this world program to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and innovators through a virtual mentoring project. Shannon Willoby, Redbook, "Why Girls Need More Mentors in STEM," 8 Mar. 2019 Still others attend trade school or community college or go through the training cycle in a union or merit-shop training program and achieve certification. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "How to Become a Skilled Tradesperson," 13 Mar. 2019 H’Arts Auction SAT Art auction to benefit Schack Art Center programs, 5 p.m. Saturday, Angel Of The Winds Arena, 2000 Hewitt Ave. Madeline Mckenzie, The Seattle Times, "Community calendar: Love in the Market, Green River Glass Show, Northwest Flower & Garden Festival," 20 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Each batch comes out to approximately 10.5 pints of beer, and it's programmed to make 5 different beer styles: American IPA, American Pale Ale, English Stout, Belgian-style Witbier, and Czech Pilsner. Brittney Morgan, House Beautiful, "Brew Your Own Beer At Home So Easily With LG's New HomeBrew Device," 9 Jan. 2019 American audiences don’t encounter French music with the regularity and in the depth that it was customarily programmed in the ’20s and ’30s. Marcus Overton,, "San Diego Symphony wraps up Masterworks series with an out-of-focus concert," 26 May 2018 This includes not only items programmed into the mission profile or identified by the crew or vehicle AI, but also info shared by other friendly forces. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "This Crazy Ad for an Israeli Future Tank Is Something Else," 12 Mar. 2019 To get the fun started as soon as possible, sign up for one of the many (free!) car rental rewards programs out there and bid farewell to long lines. Shelby Deering, Good Housekeeping, "6 Rental Car Tips That'll Save You Time and Money on Your Next Family Trip," 1 Mar. 2019 Setting your alarm system with an app, programming color tone for the time of day, ordering your groceries automatically—each of these can be a beacon to hackers. Sara Rodrigues, House Beautiful, "Smart Light Bulbs Can Expose Your Home To Theft," 19 Dec. 2018 That may or may not be faster than programming a computer to do the same thing. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Researchers 3D print a wormhole… for sound waves," 6 Dec. 2018 There’s no way to program a robot to figure out when a customer has had a bad day. Kate King, WSJ, "Wanted: Employees Who Can Shake Hands, Make Small Talk," 9 Dec. 2018 My dad worked at a bookstore and taught himself to program computers by reading books about it. E.j. Roller, Vox, "We need to talk about how family money can make or break an arts career," 12 Nov. 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

13 Apr 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 How to pronounce program (audio) , -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 How to pronounce programme (audio) , -​grəm How to pronounce programme (audio) \

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).


marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

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