\ˈprüv \
proved; proved or proven\ˈprü-vən, British also ˈprō- \; 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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The conviction rested heavily on the NAB’s unusual rules, in which the defendant is assumed guilty unless proven otherwise. The Economist, "Pakistan’s former prime minister embraces jail to rally his party," 12 July 2018 Because as Eden proved, even the most pious women can use the Bible’s teachings to question Gilead., "The Handmaid's Tale Recap Season 2, Episode 13: The Martha Express," 11 July 2018 If Kavanaugh proves the crucial fifth vote to overturn Roe, there are multiple ways in which the Supreme Court could do so. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "How the Supreme Court Kills Roe v. Wade," 11 July 2018 Expect Poore to play immediately, at least on kickoffs, but if Butler proves to be the better option, the staff can reevaluate that plan in the season’s first month. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "UK Insider: Which freshmen will play or sit this football season?," 10 July 2018 But if Dixon can prove that the health of his knee is not a problem, the 2016 fourth-round draft pick could challenge Collins atop the depth chart. Edward Lee,, "Ravens 2018 position-by-position breakdown: running backs," 10 July 2018 But if parentage can be proven through other official means, then Sabraw said that was enough. Kristina Davis,, "Trump administration says detained parents must decide whether to keep families intact," 10 July 2018 As further proven at Prince Louis's royal christening today, the two just can't seem to keep away from each other. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Show Off Some PDA at Prince Louis's Christening," 9 July 2018 But in the meantime, Elon Musk has continued working on alternative strategies divers could use if conventional diving proves too difficult for the remaining boys. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Elon Musk built a “submarine” to rescue Thailand kids—here’s what it looks like," 8 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about prove

Statistics for prove

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prove

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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


required by fashion, etiquette, or custom

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


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!