prow·​ess ˈprau̇-əs How to pronounce prowess (audio)
 also  ˈprō-
: distinguished bravery
especially : military valor and skill
: extraordinary ability
his prowess on the football field

Did you know?

Prowess is a word with a lot to be proud of. Not only has it performed gallantly for the English language since the 13th century, but it has stayed relatively stalwart in hewing to its original meaning, which is quite a flex. When prowess first joined the ranks of the lexicon, it could be used to refer to bravery, skill, and valor—especially those virtues as encountered in military contexts—or to individual acts of derring-do. The latter was usually used in the plural, as when people waxed rhapsodic about the “prowesses” of knights or some such. Today’s “extraordinary ability” meaning, which developed in the 17th century, tends to stick to the singular form, as when it’s used to describe those with intellectual prowess, or to someone known for their prowess as a fundraiser.

Examples of prowess in a Sentence

He is known for his prowess on the football field. their naval and military prowess
Recent Examples on the Web Earlier missteps by Intel allowed Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics Co. to overtake the company in manufacturing prowess. Ian King,, 19 Sep. 2023 When Rams have the ball (Lindsey Wasson / Associated Press) The Rams look to continue their season-opening prowess, despite the absence of star wide receiver Cooper Kupp. Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times, 15 Sep. 2023 Both countries are racing to boost their prowess in the sector, and each side has recently enacted export controls aimed at limiting the other’s capacity. Michelle Toh, CNN, 14 Sep. 2023 Musk’s innovative prowess, visionary thinking, and personal sacrifices evoke admiration, while his controversial public persona, labor practices, and wealth accumulation trigger criticism. Grace Lordan, Fortune, 13 Sep. 2023 Companies are increasingly touting their drilling prowess in a bid to woo investors who are growing skeptical of the industry's growth prospects. David Uberti, WSJ, 11 Sep. 2023 Along with their postseason prowess, the Knights have been a longtime force in the Western League. Glae Thien, San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 Aug. 2023 While known for their bruising rushing attack under the tenancy of (Bill) Clark, the Blazers are expected to evolve their offensive prowess under new offensive coordinator Alex Mortensen, who was the man behind the curtain of the Alabama offense while serving as an analyst in Tuscaloosa. Evan Dudley, al, 28 Aug. 2023 Porter has played four seasons in the NBA — a tenure marked by on-court prowess and off-court problems. Michael R. Sisak, Chicago Tribune, 12 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prowess.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English prouesse, from Anglo-French pruesse, prowesse, from prou

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of prowess was in the 13th century


Dictionary Entries Near prowess

Cite this Entry

“Prowess.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


prow·​ess ˈprau̇-əs How to pronounce prowess (audio)
: great bravery especially in battle
: very great ability
athletic prowess

More from Merriam-Webster on prowess

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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