pros·e·cu·tion | \ˌprä-si-ˈkyü-shən \

Definition of prosecution 

1 : the act or process of prosecuting specifically : the institution and continuance of a criminal suit involving the process of pursuing formal charges against an offender to final judgment

2 : the party by whom criminal proceedings are instituted or conducted

3 obsolete : pursuit

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Examples of prosecution in a Sentence

There has been an increase in prosecutions for gun-related crimes. The defendant is awaiting prosecution. The prosecution called their first witness. The prosecution rests, Your Honor. The defense told the jury that the prosecution had not proved its case.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Giovanna Cantone’s statement was one of many made public Wednesday as part of the prosecution of 19-year-old Cruz. Washington Post, "Official: 911 issues delayed response to school massacre," 11 July 2018 In a criminal prosecution, prosecutors must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt—a much higher bar. Michael Mccann,, "Could Gareon Conley Legally Prove That Rape Allegation Caused Draft Slide, Financial Harm?," 12 July 2018 The drama played out with prominent attorneys William Jennings Bryan speaking for the prosecution and Clarence Darrow for the defense., "July 11, 1925: Scopes trial begins," 11 July 2018 Before the judge announced her decision, the prosecution’s team made a modification in the no-contact order between Stidd and Doyle’s family. The Olympian Staff, The Seattle Times, "Man gets 41-year sentence for killing Olympia woman whose body was never found," 9 July 2018 San Francisco lawyers for the Chinese company filed secret documents in federal court in Madison in an attempt to derail the prosecution. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Chinese firm fined $1.5 million in theft of trade secrets from Wisconsin computer firm," 6 July 2018 Malaysia's new attorney general, Tommy Thomas, will head the prosecution in the case. NBC News, "Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak charged after multibillion dollar graft scandal," 4 July 2018 In a related prosecution in February 2018, a Georgia pediatric cardiologist pleaded guilty to disclosing protected health information about his patients to a representative of Aegerion Pharmaceuticals. Anne M. Murphy, Laura B. Angelini, STAT, "Criminal prosecution for violating HIPAA: an emerging threat to health care professionals," 2 July 2018 Carter’s attorneys argue in court documents obtained by PEOPLE that the prosecution’s entire case was based on one long message — and that other texts that purportedly show her compassion were never presented as evidence. Chris Harris,, "Mass. Woman Who Urged Boyfriend's Suicide in Texts Argues Prosecutors 'Cherry-Picked' Messages," 2 July 2018

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

1545, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Phrases Related to prosecution

testify for the defense/prosecution

the prosecution

Statistics for prosecution

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for prosecution

The first known use of prosecution was in 1545

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More Definitions for prosecution



English Language Learners Definition of prosecution

: the act or process of holding a trial against a person who is accused of a crime to see if that person is guilty

the prosecution : the side of a legal case which argues that a person who is accused of a crime is guilty : the lawyer or lawyers who prosecute someone in a court case

: the act of doing or continuing to do something


pros·e·cu·tion | \ˌprä-si-ˈkyü-shən \

Kids Definition of prosecution

1 : the act of carrying on a legal action against a person accused of a crime in court

2 : the lawyers in a criminal case trying to prove that the accused person is guilty The prosecution will try to prove it was murder.


pros·e·cu·tion | \ˌprä-si-ˈkyü-shən \

Legal Definition of prosecution 

1 : the act or process of prosecuting especially : the institution and carrying on of a criminal action involving the process of seeking formal charges against a person and pursuing those charges to final judgment

2 : the party by whom criminal proceedings are instituted or conducted — compare defense sense 3, plaintiff

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Comments on prosecution

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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