\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

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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

One of my hobbies is dragging my patient wife to small towns to study beliefs and practices related to cryptozoology – the hunt for creatures, from Bigfoot to the Loch Ness Monster, whose existence hasn’t been scientifically proven. Joseph P. Laycock, Smithsonian, "A Search for Mysteries and Monsters in Small Town America," 11 July 2018 But in the nine months since Irma touched down, the tiny French commune has proven its unwavering ability to bounce back after tragedy. Lindsay Silberman, Town & Country, "How St. Barth's Survived the Devastating Hurricanes of 2017," 10 July 2018 In the last couple of days, however, the weather has proved favorable and the rescue teams have taken full advantage of the moment. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Four More Thai Boys Rescued From Cave, Bringing Number Up to 8," 9 July 2018 Rather than highlighting the exhibit itself, the event proved thematically relevant in a more indirect manner: the presence of technology in relation to footwork was made evident all night by the ubiquity of phones. Anna White, Chicago Reader, "Hip-Hop / Music Chicago's footwork community takes center stage at the MCA," 6 July 2018 Eager to prove himself to his wily Mossad boss Miki (John Hurt), Ari volunteers for a dangerous job behind enemy lines, with the aim of smuggling a chemicals weapons scientist and his family out of Syria. Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Damascus Cover': Film Review," 4 July 2018 Regardless, the Lakers are back on top of the NBA, and soon their fans will have the jersey to prove it. Cam Wolf, GQ, "LeBron James’s L.A. Lakers Jersey Is Already a Best-Seller," 2 July 2018 Then serve with a side of lemon-garlic yogurt and prove everyone wrong about this whole lamb thing. Carla Lalli Music, Bon Appetit, "Stop Giving This Meat the Side-Eye," 28 June 2018 But there's one scene that has nothing to do with mean girls or lame dads that proves most frightening of all. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, "Why that disturbing #MeToo moment in 'Eighth Grade' has everyone talking," 12 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

11 Nov 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

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