pros·​e·​cu·​tion | \ ˌprä-si-ˈkyü-shən How to pronounce prosecution (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web But Britain stripped Kotey and Elsheikh of their British citizenship and expressed reservations about a prosecution there. Rachel Weiner, Anchorage Daily News, "Two ISIS militants charged in deaths of James Foley and other American hostages in Syria," 7 Oct. 2020 In his mid-30s, Perry hadn’t handled a spoofing prosecution. Tom Schoenberg,, "Inside the JPMorgan Trading Desk the U.S. Called a Crime Ring," 28 Sep. 2020 Martin was eventually arrested at the library in Markham and charged as a fugitive fleeing prosecution. Barnini Chakraborty, Fox News, "Kentucky man accused of dismembering ex-girlfriend, taking body parts in suitcases to Chicago," 17 Sep. 2020 On Wednesday, former Missouri lawmaker Bruce Franks Jr., 35, who now lives in Arizona, filed a $2.4 million claim against Phoenix saying that his arrest during a demonstration in August was political prosecution meant to discourage further protests. Uriel J. Garcia, The Arizona Republic, "Phoenix chief says she's making changes to police culture, responds to criticism," 11 Sep. 2020 But French citizens do have the right to stop medical care, and under French law there is no prosecution for suicide. Gaëlle Fournier, Martin Goillandeau And Sara Spary, CNN, "Facebook stops French man streaming his dying days," 6 Sep. 2020 Last month, prosecutors filed a deferred prosecution against ComEd in a massive bribery case alleging the company paid a cadre of lobbyists and consultants to curry favor with House Speaker Michael Madigan. Jason Meisner,, "Former red light camera executive who wore FBI wire could see bribery charges dismissed in deal with prosecutors," 4 Sep. 2020 Absent a criminal prosecution, lawsuits are often the only way families or the public get to see video evidence in such cases in Alabama. Ashley Remkus |, al, "Assistant police chief shot and killed his neighbor, who had just survived brain surgery," 30 Aug. 2020 Keith has a role to play on the path toward any possible reform; a prosecution, activists believe, would be an important first step. Ben Terris, Washington Post, "Americans want justice for George Floyd. Keith Ellison is in charge of getting it.," 18 June 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of prosecution

1545, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about prosecution

Time Traveler for prosecution

Time Traveler

The first known use of prosecution was in 1545

See more words from the same year

Statistics for prosecution

Last Updated

16 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prosecution.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for prosecution


How to pronounce prosecution (audio)

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 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
formal : the act of doing or continuing to do something


pros·​e·​cu·​tion | \ ˌprä-si-ˈkyü-shən How to pronounce prosecution (audio) \

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 How to pronounce prosecution (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Namesakes Word Quiz

  • a citrus fruit possibly named after a person
  • Which of the following is a fruit named after a Moroccan seaport?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!