verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)



    go to press, to begin being printed: The last edition has gone to press.
    press the flesh, Informal. flesh(def 24).

Origin of press

1175–1225; (noun) Middle English press(e) throng, company, trouble, machine for pressing, clothespress < Old French, derivative of presser to press < Latin pressāre, frequentative of premere (past participle pressus) to press (compare rare Old English press clothespress < Medieval Latin pressa, noun use of feminine of pressus); (v.) Middle English pressen (< Old French presser) < Latin pressāre, as above
Related formspress·a·ble, adjective

Synonyms for press



verb (used with object)

to force into service, especially naval or military service; impress.
to make use of in a manner different from that intended or desired: French taxis were pressed into service as troop transports.


impressment into service, especially naval or military service.

Origin of press

1535–45; back formation from prest, past participle of obsolete prest to take (men) for military service, v. use of prest2 in sense “enlistment money”




a male given name. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for press

Contemporary Examples of press

Historical Examples of press

British Dictionary definitions for press




to apply or exert weight, force, or steady pressure onhe pressed the button on the camera
(tr) to squeeze or compress so as to alter in shape or form
to apply heat or pressure to (clothing) so as to smooth out or mark with creases; iron
to make (objects) from soft material by pressing with a mould, form, etc, esp to make gramophone records from plastic
(tr) to hold tightly or clasp, as in an embrace
(tr) to extract or force out (juice) by pressure (from)
(tr) weightlifting to lift (a weight) successfully with a presshe managed to press 280 pounds
(tr) to force, constrain, or compel
to importune or entreat (a person) insistently; urgethey pressed for an answer
to harass or cause harassment
(tr) to plead or put forward strongly or importunatelyto press a claim
(intr) to be urgent
(tr; usually passive) to have little ofwe're hard pressed for time
(when intr, often foll by on or forward) to hasten or advance or cause to hasten or advance in a forceful manner
(intr) to crowd; throng; push
(tr) (formerly) to put to death or subject to torture by placing heavy weights upon
(tr) archaic to trouble or oppress
press charges to bring charges against a person


any machine that exerts pressure to form, shape, or cut materials or to extract liquids, compress solids, or hold components together while an adhesive joint is formed
the art or process of printing
at the press or in the press being printed
to press or to the press to be printedwhen is this book going to press?
the press
  1. news media and agencies collectively, esp newspapers
  2. (as modifier)a press matter; press relations
the press those who work in the news media, esp newspaper reporters and photographers
the opinions and reviews in the newspapers, etcthe play received a poor press
the act of pressing or state of being pressed
the act of crowding, thronging, or pushing together
a closely packed throng of people; crowd; multitude
urgency or hurry in business affairs
a cupboard, esp a large one used for storing clothes or linen
a wood or metal clamp or vice to prevent tennis rackets, etc, from warping when not in use
weightlifting a lift in which the weight is raised to shoulder level and then above the head

Word Origin for press

C14 pressen, from Old French presser, from Latin pressāre, from premere to press



verb (tr)

to recruit (men) by forcible measures for military service
to use for a purpose other than intended, (esp in the phrase press into service)


recruitment into military service by forcible measures, as by a press gang

Word Origin for press

C16: back formation from prest to recruit soldiers; see prest ²; also influenced by press 1
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

Word Origin and History for press

c.1300, presse, "crowd, throng, company; crowding and jostling of a throng; a massing together," from Old French presse (n.) "throng, crush, crowd; wine or cheese press" (11c.), from Latin pressare (see press (v.1)). Late Old English had press "clothes press."

Meaning "device for pressing cloth" is from late 14c., as is also the sense "device to squeeze juice from grapes, oil from olives, cider from apples, etc.," from Middle French presse. Specific sense "machine for printing" is from 1530s; this was extended to publishing houses by 1570s and to publishing generally (in phrases like freedom of the press) from c.1680. This gradually shifted c.1800-1820 to "periodical publishing, journalism." The press, meaning "journalists collectively" is attested from 1921 (though superseded by media since the rise of television, etc.).

Press agent is from 1873; press conference is attested from 1931, though the thing itself dates to at least World War I. Press secretary is recorded from 1940. Via the sense "crowd, throng," Middle English in press meant "in public," a coincidental parallel to the modern phrase in the press. Weightlifting sense is from 1908. The basketball defense so called from 1959 (in full-court press).


"push against," early 14c., "to clasp, embrace;" mid-14c. "to squeeze out;" also "to cluster, gather in a crowd;" late 14c., "to press against, exert pressure," also "assault, assail;" also "forge ahead, push one's way, move forward," from Old French presser "squeeze, press upon; torture" (13c.), from Latin pressare "to press," frequentative formation from pressus, past participle of premere "to press, hold fast, cover, crowd, compress," from PIE *per- (4) "to strike." Related: Pressed; pressing. Figurative sense is from late 14c. Meaning "to urge, argue for" is from 1590s.


"force into service," 1570s, alteration (by association with press (v.1)) of prest (mid-14c.) "engage by loan, pay in advance," especially money paid to a soldier or sailor on enlisting, from Latin praestare "to stand out, stand before; fulfill, perform, provide," from prae- "before" (see pre-) + stare "to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand" (see stet). Related to praesto (adv.) "ready, available." Related: Pressed; pressing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with press


In addition to the idioms beginning with press

  • pressed for time
  • press into service
  • press on
  • press one's luck
  • press the flesh

also see:

  • hard pressed
  • hot off the press
  • push (press) one's luck
  • push (press) someone's buttons

Also see underpush.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.