\ 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
\ 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


… 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.


'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

Designed to showcase exceptional and unique pieces of prose, poetry, and artwork, The Inkspot features some of the best work of our talented Medina County public school students. Sam Boyer,, "Gardening has proved to be a challenge so far this year: Whit & Whimsey," 14 June 2019 Beyond concerns about the candidates these types of job listings attract, there are some practical reasons recruiters might want to reconsider their prose. Emma Hinchliffe, Fortune, "How 'Rock Star' Job Listings Keep Women Away: The Broadsheet," 14 June 2019 One reads him not only for his prose but also for the chance to observe a great and restless intellect. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "The Conservative Sensibility Is George Will’s Definitive Declaration," 20 June 2019 Her narrations of her encounters with people are tender, and her prose becomes marked by rare stillness. Samanth Subramanian, The New Yorker, "The Prescient Anger of Arundhati Roy," 12 June 2019 Vonnegut’s prose, even when dealing with the dreadful, whistles a happy tune. Salman Rushdie, The New Yorker, "What Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” Tells Us Now," 13 June 2019 For decades, the brilliant Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector was hidden from American readers by awful translations that erased her dense, challenging prose (think James Joyce). Carolyn Kellogg,, "Rediscovering Clarice Lispector, the Brazilian author who blurs the lines of dreams," 13 June 2019 The menu’s prose, limited to the ingredient list format that Bay Area restaurants love so much, reveals fragments of brilliance within the classic dishes. Soleil Ho,, "The Vault, San Francisco’s new Financial District blockbuster, comes up empty," 13 June 2019 But weird things happen when translating prose as dense as Bellow’s into dialogue. Jesse Green, New York Times, "In Chicago’s Vibrant Theater Scene, Two Tales of One City," 7 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective or adverb

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 During courtroom proceedings, judges report, pro se litigants often fail to raise objections or properly introduce evidence. Jonathan H. Adler, WSJ, "The Case for Fewer Lawyers," 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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Statistics for prose

Last Updated

16 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for prose

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

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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
\ 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

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

Comments on prose

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


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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