[ pres ]
/ prɛs /
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verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
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Idioms about press

Origin of press

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English noun press(e), pres(e) “throng, company, trouble, machine for pressing, clothespress,” from Old French presse, prese, derivative of presser “to press,” from Latin pressāre, frequentative of premere (past participle pressus ) “to press” (compare rare Old English press “clothespress,” from Medieval Latin pressa, noun use of feminine of pressus); Middle English verb pressen, pres(se), from Old French pres(s)er, from Latin pressāre, as above


press·a·ble, adjective

Other definitions for press (2 of 3)

[ pres ]
/ prɛs /

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

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

Other definitions for press (3 of 3)

[ pres ]
/ prɛs /

a male given name.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a basic definition of press?

Press means to apply force to something or to move something to a certain spot or position. Press is also used as a noun to refer to the media or media coverage. Press has many other senses as a verb and a noun.

Press means to apply steady force to something, often with a finger or hand. For example, you press the power button on a remote control to turn a TV on.

  • Real-life examples: You press the buttons on a microwave to make it work. A person must press the keys on a keyboard in order to type on a computer.
  • Used in a sentence: Janelle pressed the pause button on the controller before getting a snack. 

Press can also mean to use force to move something into a specific position.

  • Real-life examples: Prison guards may press prisoners against a wall in order to search them. People press their hands together when praying. A customer might press their movie ticket against the glass of a teller’s booth to show that they bought one.
  • Used in a sentence: My friend pressed the poster against the wall while I taped it down. 

The word press is used as a noun to collectively refer to all the newspapers, TV programs, radio shows, and other means of communication that make up the news media. The people who work for organizations that produce these communications are also referred to as the press.

  • Real-life examples: Politicians, athletes, scientists, and police often answer questions from the press. Citizens rely on the press for accurate news and to learn about what is happening in the world.
  • Used in a sentence: The senator refused to talk to the press. 

In a similar sense, the word press also refers to the stories and other communications that news media create to inform their audience.

  • Used in a sentence: His son’s acts of charity always provided good press for the mayor. 

Where does press come from?

The first records of press come from around 1175. Both the noun and verb senses of press ultimately come from the Latin verb pressāre.

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What are some other forms related to press?

  • pressable (adjective)

What are some synonyms for press?

What are some words that share a root or word element with press

What are some words that often get used in discussing press?

How is press used in real life?

Press is a very common word that often refers to applying force to things or the news media.

Try using press!

Is press used correctly in the following sentence?

The doctor gently pressed the stethoscope against the patient’s chest to listen for a heat beat.

How to use press in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for press (1 of 2)

/ (prɛs) /


Word Origin for press

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

British Dictionary definitions for press (2 of 2)

/ (prɛs) /

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with press


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