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

Several analysts said the possibility that Mr. Liu could face criminal prosecution is another drag on the stock. Shan Li, WSJ, "China’s Suffers Share Drop on Customer Decline, CEO Worries," 20 Nov. 2018 The opponent, Ahmad Ishchi, filed a court case against the vice president and his bodyguards and General Dostum left the country without facing prosecution, in what appeared to have been part of a political agreement. New York Times, "Afghan Province in Chaos After Crackdown on Militia Leader," 4 July 2018 Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield will be facing prosecution for the manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 Liverpool supporters back in April 1989., "Hillsborough Police Chief David Duckenfield Faces Trial for Manslaughter of 95 Liverpool Supporters," 29 June 2018 Trump last week caved to public pressure and signed an executive order that suspended the practice of separating children from parents facing prosecution. Eliza Fawcett,, "Judge's ruling on migrant children in custody gives families few answers," 28 June 2018 In fact, an Oregon teenager faced prosecution for possession of just one gram of marijuana in 2016. Shelley Puhak, Teen Vogue, "7 Federal Misdemeanors "Worse" Than Illegally Crossing the Border," 28 June 2018 In addition, the flood of asylum-seekers suddenly facing criminal prosecution has led to mass trials that present a dystopian nightmare view of modern America. Will Bunch,, "'Never again'? 'Again' is happening right now on America's border. What will you do? | Will Bunch," 10 June 2018 Business owners and individuals who don’t comply can face criminal prosecution and a misdemeanor charge, with each violation punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Jessica Boehm, azcentral, "Arizona court sides with Phoenix on same-sex wedding invitations," 7 June 2018 Sessions has also supported tougher sentences for low-level drug offenses at a time when many are directly linking marijuana prosecution to the problem of mass incarceration. Angela Chen, The Verge, "Marijuana advocates celebrate after Jeff Sessions is ousted," 8 Nov. 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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Last Updated

10 Dec 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).


to make faulty or ineffective

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