\ ˈprōz How to pronounce prose (audio) \

Definition of prose

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing
b : a literary medium distinguished from poetry especially by its greater irregularity and variety of rhythm and its closer correspondence to the patterns of everyday speech
2 : a dull or ordinary style, quality, or condition



Definition of prose (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : of, relating to, or written in prose
2 : prosaic


prosed; prosing

Definition of prose (Entry 3 of 4)

intransitive verb

1 : to write prose
2 : to write or speak in a dull or ordinary manner

pro se

adjective or adverb
\ ˈprō-ˈsā How to pronounce pro se (audio) , -ˈsē \

Definition of pro se (Entry 4 of 4)

: on one's own behalf : without an attorney a pro se action a defendant's right to proceed pro se

Examples of prose in a Sentence

Noun … the esteemed critic James Wood reaches out to assure "the common reader" … that his prose is as free as he can make it of what James Joyce termed "the true scholastic stink" of so much academic writing. — Walter Kirn, New York Times Book Review, 17 Aug. 2008 Like many two-person writing teams, this one produces its share of three-legged prose and redundancy. — James McManus, New York Times Book Review, 15 Apr. 2001 In my own work I felt a need to hurry from climax as in film montage, or even in Joycean prose with its strings of firecracker words … — Arthur Miller, Timebends, 1987 She writes in very clear prose. Verb 'In the meantime,' said Traddles, coming back to his chair; 'and this is the end of my prosing about myself, I get on as well as I can. I don't make much, but I don't spend much … ' — Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, 1850
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And like many books in the tradition of feminist screeds, The Beauty Myth’s power derives in part from prose that signifies both simplicity and profundity. Liza Featherstone, The New Republic, 10 June 2021 Howard’s lean, galloping prose always cuts to the action. Washington Post, 9 June 2021 As in his column, Brammer’s prose in the memoir-in-essays is notably witty and deeply personal. Molly Longman,, 8 June 2021 Lam’s writing has promise with her gift for vivid prose. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 2 June 2021 The book is packed with gorgeous photos of people and neighborhoods as well as of food, and the prose is wonderfully evocative, lyrical and precise. John Willoughby, WSJ, 26 May 2021 The prose is propulsive, erotic, and darkly dreamlike, recalling the early novels of Marguerite Duras. Miguel Salazar, Vulture, 25 May 2021 The prose is not quite Steinbeck’s standards, but it is filled with wry humor. Brian Smale, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Apr. 2021 Champaneri's descriptive prose is precise and evocative. Jenny Bhatt, Star Tribune, 9 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Significantly, Waugh compared Greene to Somerset Maugham, another great storyteller whose prose style was undistinguished but who nonetheless had an uncanny flair for telling tales that captivated the reading public. Terry Teachout, National Review, 4 Mar. 2021 Small moments like this, rendered in prose that’samusingly fussy yet still lucid, elevate The Meaning of Mariah Carey from celebrity propaganda into impressive storytelling. The Atlantic Culture Desk, The Atlantic, 24 Dec. 2020 The endgame for a funny writer, in short, is much more likely in television than in prose humor. Kate Knibbs, Wired, 22 Oct. 2020 The prose style is half of what makes the book so powerful. Vivian Shaw, Washington Post, 21 Aug. 2020 The world Coetzee has constructed bears resemblance to his prose style. Christian Lorentzen, Harper's Magazine, 18 Aug. 2020 Here was Hamill, the veteran newsman who had put in tabloid tours of duty at the Daily News, the Post and New York Newsday, whose columns were often prose poems that lifted the city and its people. Tom Robbins, The New Yorker, 6 Aug. 2020 Douglass became the prose poet of an egalitarian American democracy in the era of the Civil War and gives Woodard a voice of an open, pluralistic nation, refounded and reimagined during Reconstruction. Washington Post, 26 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Janet Wong, the 2021 winner of the NCTE Excellence in Poetry for Children award, is the author of 35 books, including A Suitcase of Seaweed & MORE, a collection of poems, prose, and writing prompts for young people. Kwame Alexander, Bon Appétit, 7 May 2021 One of this novel’s striking achievements is to offer murky conjecture in crisp, dry, stately (yet unshowy) prose. Washington Post, 9 Mar. 2021 Politics, warfare, the relation between states and—a surprise?—men were its subjects, and Thucydides’ grave, stately prose resounded for centuries. James M. Banner Jr., WSJ, 2 Apr. 2021 Her prose easily floats between humor and pain, and her pragmatic but gentle approach to complicated topics sets her apart from some of her more dogmatic peers. New York Times, 24 Mar. 2021 Jeff Daniels recites Hemingway's letters and prose, while the author's four wives are voiced by Keri Russell, Mary-Louise Parker, Patricia Clarkson, and Meryl Streep. Clark Collis,, 23 Mar. 2021 Jughead continues to deliver overwrought prose through voiceover. Jackson Mchenry, Vulture, 3 Mar. 2021 There, before and after his Army service, and into the decade that followed, Stanley became one of many typists and scribblers providing copy for word balloons and prose for the books’ filler pages. Stephanie Burt, The New Yorker, 8 Feb. 2021 For some European leaders, the relief felt at President Biden’s taking command inside the Oval Office calls for a fairer house than prose. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, 20 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective or adverb Recently, representing herself pro se, Ms. Hettara tried to use Ms. Ratajkowski’s allegations to have her custody restored. Jessica Testa, New York Times, 12 Nov. 2020 The proportion of civil cases wherein one party is unrepresented, or pro se, has grown massively since the 1970s. Kathryn Joyce, The New Republic, 22 June 2020 Represent yourself in court pro se, or on your own behalf, with caution. New York Times, 18 Apr. 2020 By 2012 Judge Norko was instrumental in Limited Scope Representation becoming a reality, that is participation by lawyers on parts of pro se cases to unclog the court system., 1 Sep. 2019 On his own, with no legal training, Kameny wrote and filed a pro se appeal to the Supreme Court — the first time the rights of gays, or lack thereof, were taken to the nation’s highest court. Michael S. Rosenwald, Washington Post, 9 June 2018 Often, pro se litigants are left waiting for extended periods of time on court dockets, for instance the domestic violence docket. Nick Hollkamp, The Courier-Journal, 16 May 2018 McGrath also ordered the county to repay a $25 fee a reporter paid to file the pro se lawsuit. Cory Shaffer,, 26 Feb. 2018 For example, instead of trying to fund lawyers for litigants who might otherwise represent themselves, legal processes could be made more friendly to pro se representation. Jonathan H. Adler, WSJ, 6 Sep. 2017

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


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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective or adverb

1861, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for prose

Noun, Adjective, and Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin prosa, from feminine of prorsus, prosus, straightforward, being in prose, contraction of proversus, past participle of provertere to turn forward, from pro- forward + vertere to turn — more at pro-, worth

Adjective or adverb


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Learn More About prose

Time Traveler for prose

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for prose

Last Updated

12 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prose.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for prose



English Language Learners Definition of prose

: writing that is not poetry : ordinary writing


\ ˈprōz How to pronounce prose (audio) \

Kids Definition of prose

1 : the ordinary language that people use in speaking or writing
2 : writing without the repeating rhythm that is used in poetry

pro se

adverb or adjective
\ ˈprō-ˈsā, -ˈsē \

Legal Definition of pro se

: on one's own behalf : without an attorney a defendant's right to proceed pro se a pro se action

History and Etymology for prose


More from Merriam-Webster on prose

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prose

Nglish: Translation of prose for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prose for Arabic Speakers


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