\ 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 James wrote his famous prefaces to each volume, assessing virtues and shortfalls, a set of essays that remains an excellent education for a novelist on the distance required to see clearly what might be wrong with a prose narrative. New York Times, 12 July 2022 This sprawling masterpiece is about nearly everything — family and loss, grief and despair, art and betrayal, and many different types of love — in a thrilling, expansive plot with beautiful prose and a rich cast of compelling, original characters. The Week Staff, The Week, 27 June 2022 The book breathes with glorious prose and challenging insights into a very strange world. Steve Donoghue, The Christian Science Monitor, 9 June 2022 With prose that reads like a thriller, Browder walks us through legal strategies and developments that include enough high drama, plot twists and colorful characters for a movie. Washington Post, 26 May 2022 Examples, as noticed by reader David E. Gold, that continue to drag down our prose: There are plenty of conventional, and stronger, verbs that could be used instead: motivated to/encouraging/to discourage/to persuade. WSJ, 15 July 2022 Romney might have done better to include himself in his core diagnosis: The signs of his own deep denial shine brightly in his prose. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 5 July 2022 The proof is in these stories, as Mantel explores different facets of a semi-outcast childhood in her striking and starkly beautiful prose. Clea Simon,, 23 June 2022 On the page, The Black Phone is ruthlessly efficient — a lean, mean, 30-page survival yarn, King-ish mostly in its punchy prose. A.a. Dowd, Rolling Stone, 23 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective An original story rather than one of the transformations of existing material that currently clog the opera world, her text is largely prose, and never purple; modest arias arise naturally out of the dialogue. New York Times, 22 July 2022 The biblical texts of these four are more prose than poetry, and Burton and Garritson shaped them into an expressive arc from chaos and despair to acceptance and peace, landing in the purpose of a life lived with love. Globe Staff,, 26 May 2022 Striking prose and unforgettable characters—including a young Black woman in relentless pursuit of justice—make for a shocking page-turner and timely reflection. Véronique Hyland, ELLE, 18 May 2022 In the second half of his career, Auden patiently worked out, in both prose and masterful verse, the implications of his homemade anthropology—his own account of what his friend Hannah Arendt would later call, in a 1958 book, The Human Condition. Alan Jacobs, Harper’s Magazine , 27 Apr. 2022 In an evening filled with prose and literary imagination, a monthly community reading series in New York City's Chinatown became an outlet for Asian women writers to share their voices. Jean Song, CBS News, 20 Apr. 2022 Many reviewers took this idea literally, treating the book less as literature than as a prose equivalent of a TV show. Adam Kirsch, The New Republic, 22 Mar. 2022 It’s a family saga that combines the denseness of prose fiction with the specific advantages of television. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 11 Mar. 2022 Her new novel is a genre bender: a murder story whose prose sings and snickers and soars as engagingly as Chang’s literary fiction. Washington Post, 29 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Youngson’s gentle tone, prose packed with British witticisms, and terrifically realized characters delighted me. The Atlantic, 16 May 2022 But his spare, precise, deceivingly matter of fact prose often invites readers to join the dots, considering the elliptical concatenation of events, or finding resonance in seemingly casual dialog. John Hopewell, Variety, 27 Apr. 2022 Etiwanda stands out Hearts pumping, blood rushing through their veins in the pregame locker room before a game, the Etiwanda girls’ basketball players turns to prose. Eric Sondheimer Columnist, Los Angeles Times, 7 Feb. 2022 With these searching long poems and prose sketches, Sebald was reaching for a different kind of writing—an antidote to the silence in German life, and to the hypocrisy in German literature, that drove him to the margins of his discipline. Max Norman, The New Yorker, 20 Nov. 2021 Yet Sebald also published crepuscular poems and prose in the student newspaper. Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic, 5 Oct. 2021 According to his report, written in tortured prose even by his dismal standards, Irving wasn’t being held captive by misinformation or a fear of needles. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 15 Oct. 2021 Intentionally emulating Shange, Scott divides poetry and prose monologues among seven actors. Washington Post, 14 Oct. 2021 We are brought up understanding the iambic form and how that works; how when Shakespeare moves from verse to prose there is a process — horrible word again! — going on. David Marchesephotograph By Mamadi Doumbouya, New York Times, 27 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective or adverb Navarro was previously pro se and representing himself. Ali Dukakis, ABC News, 17 June 2022 The lawsuits were filed pro se, meaning that the plaintiffs represented themselves without the help of attorneys. cleveland, 8 June 2022 Using pro se, activists speak freely in ways that might get a real lawyer professionally reprimanded. Carole Sargent, The Conversation, 8 Dec. 2021 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 See More

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.

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


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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Dictionary Entries Near prose



pro se

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Statistics for prose

Last Updated

30 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Prose.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for prose


\ 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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