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[proh-bey-shuh n] /proʊˈbeɪ ʃən/
the act of testing.
the testing or trial of a person's conduct, character, qualifications, or the like.
the state or period of such testing or trial.
  1. a method of dealing with offenders, especially young persons guilty of minor crimes or first offenses, by allowing them to go at large under supervision of a probation officer.
  2. the state of having been conditionally released.
Education. a trial period or condition of students in certain educational institutions who are being permitted to redeem failures, misconduct, etc.
the testing or trial of a candidate for membership in a religious body or order, for holy orders, etc.
Archaic. proof.
Origin of probation
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English probacion < Latin probātiōn- (stem of probātiō). See probate, -ion
Related forms
probational, probationary
[proh-bey-shuh-ner-ee] /proʊˈbeɪ ʃəˌnɛr i/ (Show IPA),
probationship, noun
nonprobation, noun
unprobational, adjective
unprobationary, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for probation
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There is nothing about the earth-life to make it the only phase of effort and probation.

  • Miss Grange, who had been kind to Sidney in her probation months, taught her the method.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • But this was only his second detection, and three of his four days of probation were past.

  • The first time you've ever warned me that I was on probation, Sally!

    The Dominant Strain Anna Chapin Ray
  • His state of probation is closed, and he goes to the place for which he is prepared.

British Dictionary definitions for probation


a system of dealing with offenders by placing them under the supervision of a probation officer
on probation
  1. under the supervision of a probation officer
  2. undergoing a test period
a trial period, as for a teacher, religious novitiate, etc
the act of proving or testing
a period during which a new employee may have his employment terminated on the grounds of unsuitability
Derived Forms
probational, probationary, adjective
probationally, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for probation

early 15c., "trial, experiment, test," from Old French probacion "proof, evidence" (14c., Modern French probation) and directly from Latin probationem (nominative probatio) "approval, assent; a proving, trial, inspection, examination," noun of action from past participle stem of probare "to test" (see prove). Meaning "testing of a person's conduct" (especially as a trial period for membership) is from early 15c.; theological sense first recorded 1520s; criminal justice sense is recorded by 1866. As a verb from 1640s. Related: Probationer; probationary.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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