pro·​cess | \ ˈprä-ˌses How to pronounce process (audio) , ˈprō-, -səs How to pronounce process (audio) \
plural processes\ ˈprä-​ˌse-​səz How to pronounce process (audio) , ˈprō-​ , -​sə-​ , -​ˌsēz How to pronounce process (audio) \

Definition of process

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : progress, advance in the process of time
b : something going on : proceeding
2a(1) : a natural phenomenon marked by gradual changes that lead toward a particular result the process of growth
(2) : a continuing natural or biological activity or function such life processes as breathing
b : a series of actions or operations conducing to an end especially : a continuous operation or treatment especially in manufacture
3a : the whole course of proceedings in a legal action
b : the summons, mandate, or writ used by a court to compel the appearance of the defendant in a legal action or compliance with its orders
4 : a prominent or projecting part of an organism or organic structure a bone process a nerve cell process


verb (1)
processed; processing; processes

Definition of process (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

1a : to proceed against by law : prosecute
b(1) : to take out a summons against
(2) : to serve a summons on
2a : to subject to a special process or treatment (as in the course of manufacture or film development)
b(1) : to subject to or handle through an established usually routine set of procedures process insurance claims
(2) : to integrate sensory information received so that an action or response is generated the brain processes visual images relayed from the retina
(3) : to subject to examination or analysis computers process data
c : to work (hair) into a conk



Definition of process (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : treated or made by a special process especially when involving synthesis or artificial modification
2 : made by or used in a mechanical or photomechanical duplicating process
3 : of or involving illusory effects usually introduced during processing of the film


verb (2)
pro·​cess | \ prə-ˈses How to pronounce process (audio) \
processed; processing; processes

Definition of process (Entry 4 of 4)

intransitive verb

chiefly British
: to move in a procession

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Synonyms for process

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of process in a Sentence

Noun How does the election process work? Learning a foreign language can be a long process. We're remodeling our house. The whole process is expected to take a few months. Breathing and the circulation of blood are life processes. a bony process on the foot
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Surprisingly, a lot of companies do a sloppy job with this process or skip it altogether. John Hall, Forbes, 12 Sep. 2021 However, this process breaks down eventually, and your pancreas will no longer be able to produce the higher amounts of insulin needed. Corey Maloney,, 10 Sep. 2021 This thought process is leading to bidding wars and further upward pressure on pricing, which is resulting in first-time buyers and lower-income home shoppers finding themselves priced out of the market. Ali Wolf, Fortune, 9 Sep. 2021 Black leaders are approaching this process with a different mind-set than a decade ago, with more arguing that Black political representation no longer rests on a need to pack Black voters into highly concentrated districts. Aaron Zitner, WSJ, 8 Sep. 2021 Astronomers have never been able to observe this process, so this marks the first time this type of supernova has been confirmed by scientists. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 7 Sep. 2021 One confusing factor in this process is the difference between general education credits, elective credits and credits that apply to a major. Washington Post, 5 Sep. 2021 And the calls for accountability of the messiness and the bloodshed that came with this process. Claire Thornton, USA TODAY, 5 Sep. 2021 Some health care organizations seem willing to challenge this process. Elsa Pearson, STAT, 5 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Many teachers spent the day trying to help the students process what had happened. Grace Hauck, USA TODAY, 9 Sep. 2021 Five years ago, it was spun off from an earlier payments firm called AstroPay to help large multinationals process cross-border payments from billions of customers in complex emerging markets. Giacomo Tognini, Forbes, 7 Sep. 2021 During the pandemic, the group has hosted events with guest speakers, such as mental health care professionals, to help people process the trauma caused by both the pandemic and the broad reckoning with racial injustice., 25 Aug. 2021 They’re driven by algorithms designed to mimic how our brains’ neurons process information. Quanta Magazine, 19 Aug. 2021 The Justice Department has, in other cases, formally objected to releasing third parties who are not going through the bankruptcy process themselves from legal liability. Allie Yang, ABC News, 9 Aug. 2021 The State of Wisconsin oversees and licenses companies such as Vance Global that grow or process hemp. Erik S. Hanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5 Aug. 2021 Coffee and tea consumption in Europe may have paved the way for the Enlightenment; the peyote cactus, which produces mescaline, is central to Native American Church ceremonies that help participants process Colonial traumas. The New Yorker, 2 Aug. 2021 The Onsite Foundation and MusiCares have partnered for a free three-day workshop aimed at helping music industry professionals process the trauma and loss of the COVID-19 pandemic. Melinda Newman, Billboard, 30 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective This may have positioned several large cities that chose to pre-process ballots to deliver election results earlier than expected. Clara Hendrickson, Detroit Free Press, 4 Nov. 2020 State Democrats and Republicans both agree that local election workers should be allowed to pre-process ballots early. Kristine Phillips, USA TODAY, 22 Oct. 2020 The state can’t yet process unemployment claims from independent contractors and the self-employed, even though the federal government has temporarily extended benefits to those workers, St. Louis Public Radio reported. USA TODAY, 15 Apr. 2020 The recent rise of memes seeming to make light of the Wuhan virus or international tensions offers a glimpse into how teenagers learn about and process world events. Nicole Daniels, New York Times, 11 Feb. 2020 Knowing that people process things differently and that's OK. Gabe Bergado, Teen Vogue, 13 Sep. 2019 The Google Assistant, for example, can already now process multiple requests at once. Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY, 2 Jan. 2018 People process things differently and at different rates. Richard Asa,, 31 Aug. 2017 Around 80% of people process language on the left, or the analytical, side of the brain, Dr. Pantelyat says, and everyone processes music on both sides of the brain. Heidi Mitchell, WSJ, 26 July 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Those election day votes will take a few hours to process and count. Los Angeles Times, 14 Sep. 2021 Patients with painful chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia and IBS tend to have more activity in the parts of their brain that process pain. Laken Brooks, Forbes, 13 Sep. 2021 Despite assuring British fisheries they would not be hit by difficulties importing into mainland Europe, catches are being thrown back into the water, as boats are unable to land and process their fresh product in time for it to be sold. Luke Mcgee, CNN, 12 Sep. 2021 The comedians and satirists interviewed in Too Soon describe humor serving as a coping mechanism for performers and audiences alike, an attempt to process tragedy and move on from it, a way of returning to normalcy. Sascha Cohen, The Atlantic, 10 Sep. 2021 Many teachers spent the day trying to help the students process what had happened. Grace Hauck, USA TODAY, 9 Sep. 2021 Right after a loss, the regions of the brain that process intense emotions and memories slow down. Stephanie Booth,, 8 Sep. 2021 Another $193 million would help U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services process the new arrivals and give them legal residency in America. The Washington Post, Arkansas Online, 8 Sep. 2021 The administration is seeking $6.4 billion for sites to process Afghan allies overseas and in the U.S. as well as for security screenings and humanitarian assistance. Sarah Ewall-wice, CBS News, 7 Sep. 2021

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1888, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

1814, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for process


Middle English proces, from Anglo-French procés, from Latin processus, from procedere

Verb (2)

back-formation from procession entry 1

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Time Traveler for process

Time Traveler

The first known use of process was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near process




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Statistics for process

Last Updated

14 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Process.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for process



English Language Learners Definition of process

: a series of actions that produce something or that lead to a particular result
: a series of changes that happen naturally
: something that sticks out of something else


pro·​cess | \ ˈprä-ˌses How to pronounce process (audio) , ˈprō- \

Kids Definition of process

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a series of actions, motions, or operations leading to some result the manufacturing process
2 : a series of changes that occur naturally the growth process


processed; processing

Kids Definition of process (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to change by a special treatment The fruit is picked and processed for shipment.
2 : to take care of according to a routine His job is to process insurance claims.
3 : to take in and organize for use Computers process data.


pro·​cess | \ ˈpräs-ˌes How to pronounce process (audio) , ˈprōs- How to pronounce process (audio) , -əs \

Medical Definition of process

1a : a natural progressively continuing operation or development marked by a series of gradual changes that succeed one another in a relatively fixed way and lead toward a particular result or end the process of growth the process of digestion
b : a natural continuing activity or function such life processes as breathing and the circulation of the blood
2 : a prominent or projecting part of an organism or organic structure a bone process a nerve cell process

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pro·​cess | \ ˈprä-ˌses, ˈprō- How to pronounce process (audio) \

Legal Definition of process

1 : a continuous operation, art, or method especially in manufacture whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process…may obtain a patent thereforU.S. Code
b : a means (as a summons) used to compel a defendant to appear in court broadly : a means by which a court acquires or exercises jurisdiction over a person or property — see also mesne process — compare notice, service

Note: In civil procedure, service of a summons on a defendant is considered constitutionally sufficient process, although usually a copy of the complaint must also be provided according to the local rule of procedure.

More from Merriam-Webster on process

Nglish: Translation of process for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of process for Arabic Speakers


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