\ ˈprüv \
proved; proved or proven\ˈprü-vən, British alsoˈprō- \; proving\ˈprü-viŋ \

Definition of prove 

transitive verb

1 archaic : to learn or find out by experience

2a : to test the truth, validity, or genuineness of the exception proves the rule prove a will at probate

b : to test the worth or quality of specifically : to compare against a standard sometimes used with up or out

c : to check the correctness of (something, such as an arithmetic result)

3a : to establish the existence, truth, or validity of (as by evidence or logic) prove a theorem the charges were never proved in court

b : to demonstrate as having a particular quality or worth the vaccine has been proven effective after years of tests proved herself a great actress

4 : to show (oneself) to be worthy or capable eager to prove myself in the new job

intransitive verb

: to turn out especially after trial or test the new drug proved effective

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Other words from prove

provable \ˈprü-və-bəl \ adjective
provableness noun
provably \ˈprü-və-blē \ adverb
prover \ˈprü-vər \ noun

proved or proven?: Usage Guide

The past participle proven, originally the past participle of preve, a Middle English variant of prove that survived in Scotland, has gradually worked its way into standard English over the past three and a half centuries. It seems to have first become established in legal use and to have come only slowly into literary use. Tennyson was one of its earliest frequent users, probably for metrical reasons. It was disapproved by 19th century grammarians, one of whom included it in a list of "words that are not words." Surveys made some 50 or 60 years ago indicated that proved was about four times as frequent as proven. But our evidence from the last 30 or 35 years shows this no longer to be the case. As a past participle proven is now about as frequent as proved in all contexts. As an attributive adjective proved or proven gas reserves proven is much more common than proved.

Examples of prove in a Sentence

The charges against him were never proved in court. The government failed to prove its case. It could not be proven that the suspect stole the money. A person who is charged with a crime is considered innocent until proved guilty. mathematicians trying to prove a theorem To prove her point, she got out the old research. The tests proved the vaccine to be effective. Her second album was a hit that proved her critics wrong.
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Recent Examples on the Web

But with the Bucks nearing the luxury tax threshold, the Bulls are expected to make an offer in the range of two years and $40 million that could prove painful to match. K.c. Johnson,, "Bulls working to sign restricted free agent Jabari Parker to offer sheet," 14 July 2018 Judges seldom seal a tenant's name, doing so only if the tenant can prove a flaw in the eviction, such as a lack of service or the rent really was paid. Kevin Crowe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'He'll evict you in a minute.' Landlord quietly becomes a force in Milwaukee rental business...and eviction court," 13 July 2018 Who Is Vera Kelly? makes for light reading, but of a kind that proves sly, brisk, and charming – with a woman as protagonist. Rayyan Al-shawaf,, "'Who Is Vera Kelly?' by Rosalie Knecht: Brainy, endearing bisexual spy," 13 July 2018 If data on Generation Z proves true, this trend is likely to continue. Ashley May, USA TODAY, "Middle children are going extinct because Millennials don't want three children anymore," 13 July 2018 The group has been working on it for nearly two years, and Carr is confident the time will prove well spent. Gary Graff, Billboard, "BAHARI Shares 'Chasers' About 'That Craving to Meet the Right Someone': Premiere," 13 July 2018 But if parentage can be proved through other official means, Sabraw said, that was enough. Brittny Mejia,, "Trump administration reunites just over half of migrant children under 5 with parents, says others are 'ineligible'," 12 July 2018 The new median justice will be Chief Justice John Roberts, a mostly reliable conservative who has proven remarkably willing to overturn decades-old precedents. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "America under Brett Kavanaugh," 11 July 2018 Tesla can take credit for proving to the world that electric cars can be fun, and faster than their internal combustion engine competitors. Jack Stewart, WIRED, "Pininfarina's Back With a $2 Million Electric Hypercar," 14 July 2018

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for prove

Middle English, from Anglo-French prover, pruver, from Latin probare to test, prove, from probus good, honest, from pro- for, in favor + -bus (akin to Old English bēon to be) — more at pro-, be

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Statistics for prove

Last Updated

16 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prove

The first known use of prove was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for prove



English Language Learners Definition of prove

: to show the existence, truth, or correctness of (something) by using evidence, logic, etc.

: to show that (someone or something) has a particular quality, ability, etc.

: to turn out to be


\ ˈprüv \
proved; proved or proven\ˈprü-vən \; proving

Kids Definition of prove

1 : to show the truth or existence of something with facts I can prove he's guilty.

2 : to turn out to be The climb proved more difficult than they had expected.

3 : to check the correctness of prove the math theory

4 : to test by experiment or by a standard Tests proved that the vaccine is effective.

\ ˈprüv \
proved; proved or proven\ˈprü-vən \; proving

Legal Definition of prove 

1 : to test the truth, validity, or genuineness of prove a will at probate

2a : to establish the existence, truth, or validity of the charges were never proved in court

b : to provide sufficient proof of or that proved the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt

Other words from prove

provable \ˈprü-və-bəl \ adjective
provableness noun
provably \ˈprü-və-blē \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on prove

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prove

Spanish Central: Translation of prove

Nglish: Translation of prove for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prove for Arabic Speakers

Comments on prove

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alleviating pain or harshness

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