1 a : to resolve (as a sentence) into component parts of speech and describe them grammatically
b : to describe grammatically by stating the part of speech and explaining the inflection and syntactical relationships
2 : to examine in a minute way : analyze critically
Did You Know?
If parse brings up images of elementary school and learning the parts of speech, you've done your homework regarding this word. Parse comes from the first element of the Latin term for "part of speech," pars orationis. It's an old word that has been used in the schoolroom since at least the student days of King Edward VI of England (1537-1553). Edward's tutor, Richard Cox, recorded that at the age of nine the young prince had memorized all four of the Roman author Cato's Moral Distichs and had parsed them as well. But it was not until the late 18th century that parse graduated to its extended, non-grammar-related sense. Remember this extended sense, and you're really at the head of the class.
The lawyer meticulously parsed the wording of the final contract to be sure that her client would get all that he was asking for.
"The Federal Reserve releases a statement at the conclusion of each of its policy-setting meetings, outlining the central bank's economic outlook and the actions it plans to take.… Fed watchers closely parse changes between statements to see how the Fed's views are evolving." - Sarah Portlock, Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2015
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Fill in the blanks to create a verb meaning "to dissect" or "to analyze": _ n _ _ omi _ e. The answer is …
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