\ 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


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 To call it merely a reworking of that ancient story, though, would be to discount the almost casual excellence of Solomon’s prose, and the thoroughly modern messages embedded within. Leah Greenblatt,, "The best books of 2020… so far," 30 June 2020 Excellent photographs by David Fenton complement the prose throughout the 112-page book and help the reader comprehend the complicated process of caring for intricate, miniature representations of nature. Sally Peterson, oregonlive, "‘The Little Book of Bonsai’: Peaceful plants that are better than succulents," 29 June 2020 Moshfegh is a gifted writer, with an excellent ear for rhythm and detail, and her prose, along with the promise that something interesting might happen, makes the book a quick and sometimes enjoyable read. Steph Cha, USA TODAY, "Review: Ottessa Moshfegh's 'Death in Her Hands' is a high-handed psychodrama," 23 June 2020 Polly's prose has a chin-up confidence, the dance-like-no-one-is-watching kind. Carol Motsinger,, "How Polly Campbell told the story of Cincinnati, one plate at a time," 19 June 2020 Mary Odden has clearly been closely observing, thinking creatively and critically, and writing beautiful, image-rich prose for years. Nancy Lord, Anchorage Daily News, "Journey to Interior Alaska and its peopled past with this joyful, lyrical memoir," 13 June 2020 The scales tilt heavily toward Alaric’s times—a rich subject in its own right—and Boin renders the confusion of the era without replicating that confusion in his prose. Cullen Murphy, The Atlantic, "The Man Who Sacked Rome," 9 June 2020 Much of Kaufman’s work was prose poetry, and Woodberry’s film, too, is a devoted, impassioned prose poem, in which biography and history are fused with imaginative and illuminating renderings of Kaufman’s life and art. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "What to Stream: Billy Woodberry’s Documentary About the Poet Bob Kaufman," 6 June 2020 Jackson, who was known for her creepy tales and gorgeous, smart prose, published six novels and seven short story collections (some of which were published posthumously). Gina Vaynshteyn,, "Shirley Jackson Books To Read After You Finish Hulu’s Shirley," 5 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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, "‘Union’ tells the origin story of the United States through 19th-century voices," 26 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective or adverb The proportion of civil cases wherein one party is unrepresented, or pro se, has grown massively since the 1970s. Kathryn Joyce, The New Republic, "No Money, No Lawyer, No Justice," 22 June 2020 Represent yourself in court pro se, or on your own behalf, with caution. New York Times, "How to Get Child Support as a Single Parent," 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., "Raymond R. Norko," 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, "The gay rights pioneer who demanded justice from the Supreme Court in 1960," 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, "Voters guide: Candidates for family court and district judges," 16 May 2018 McGrath also ordered the county to repay a $25 fee a reporter paid to file the pro se lawsuit. Cory Shaffer,, "Judge orders Cuyahoga County to release video of jail guard attacking inmate," 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, "The Case for Fewer Lawyers," 6 Sep. 2017 Aside from pro se, your options include any one of the following (or a combination thereof), in order of least to most expensive and starting at about $2,000. Charlotte Cowles, The Cut, "I Can’t Afford to Divorce My Rich Husband," 26 Oct. 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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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

5 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prose.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for prose


How to pronounce pro se (audio)

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


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More from Merriam-Webster on prose

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prose

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with prose

Spanish Central: Translation of prose

Nglish: Translation of prose for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prose for Arabic Speakers

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