urgent; demanding immediate attention: a pressing need.


any phonograph record produced in a record-molding press from a master or a stamper.
a number of such records produced at one time: The fifth pressing of his hit song has sold out.

Origin of pressing

1300–50; Middle English presing (gerund); see press1, -ing2, -ing1
Related formspress·ing·ly, adverbpress·ing·ness, nounnon·press·ing, adjective

Synonyms for pressing



verb (used with object)

to act upon with steadily applied weight or force.
to move by weight or force in a certain direction or into a certain position: The crowd pressed him into a corner.
to compress or squeeze, as to alter in shape or size: He pressed the clay into a ball.
to weigh heavily upon; subject to pressure.
to hold closely, as in an embrace; clasp: He pressed her in his arms.
to flatten or make smooth, especially by ironing: to press clothes; to press flowers in the leaves of a book.
to extract juice, sugar, etc., from by pressure: to press grapes.
to squeeze out or express, as juice: to press the juice from grapes.
to beset or harass; afflict: He was pressed by problems on all sides.
to trouble or oppress; put into a difficult position, as by depriving: Poverty pressed them hard.
to urge or entreat strongly or insistently: to press for payment of a debt; to press for an answer.
to emphasize or propound forcefully; insist upon: He pressed his own ideas on us.
to plead with insistence: to press a claim.
to urge onward; hasten: He pressed his horse to go faster.
to push forward.

verb (used without object)

to manufacture (phonograph records, videodiscs, or the like), especially by stamping from a mold or matrix.
to exert weight, force, or pressure.
Weightlifting. to raise or lift, especially a specified amount of weight, in a press.
to iron clothing, curtains, etc.
to bear heavily, as upon the mind.
(of athletes and competitors) to perform tensely or overanxiously, as when one feels pressured or is determined to break out of a slump; strain because of frustration: For days he hasn't seemed able to buy a hit, and he's been pressing.
to compel haste: Time presses.
to demand immediate attention.
to use urgent entreaty: to press for an answer.
to push forward or advance with force, eagerness, or haste: The army pressed to reach the river by dawn.
to crowd or throng.
Basketball. to employ a press.


an act of pressing; pressure.
the state of being pressed.
printed publications collectively, especially newspapers and periodicals.
all the media and agencies that print, broadcast, or gather and transmit news, including newspapers, newsmagazines, radio and television news bureaus, and wire services.
the editorial employees, taken collectively, of these media and agencies.
(often used with a plural verb) a group of news reporters, or of news reporters and news photographers: The press are in the outer office, waiting for a statement.
the consensus of the general critical commentary or the amount of coverage accorded a person, thing, or event, especially in newspapers and periodicals (often preceded by good or bad): The play received a good press. The minister's visit got a bad press.
an establishment for printing books, magazines, etc.
the process or art of printing.
any of various devices or machines for exerting pressure, stamping, or crushing.
a wooden or metal viselike device for preventing a tennis or other racket from warping when not in use.
a pressing or pushing forward.
a crowding, thronging, or pressing together; collective force: The press of the crowd drove them on.
a crowd, throng, or multitude.
the desired smooth or creased effect caused by ironing or pressing: His suit was out of press.
pressure or urgency, as of affairs or business.
an upright case or other piece of furniture for holding clothes, books, pamphlets, etc.
Basketball. an aggressive form of defense in which players guard opponents very closely.
Weightlifting. a lift in which the barbell, after having been lifted from the ground up to chest level, is pushed to a position overhead with the arms extended straight up, without moving the legs or feet.


    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” Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pressing

Contemporary Examples of pressing

Historical Examples of pressing

  • A matter of most pressing importance is the revision of the tariff.

  • A hundred doubts and fears were pressing upon him, and—the second bell rang.

    Life in London

    Edwin Hodder

  • After pressing it upon him, he at length took a portion of it.


    Scian Dubh

  • The problem of days' journeys was not pressing at this moment.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • The pressing of this ball actuates a detonator inside the flask I carry in my pocket.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for pressing



demanding immediate attention
persistent or importunate


a large specified number of gramophone records produced at one time from a master record
a component formed in a press
football the tactic of trying to stay very close to the opposition when they are in possession of the ball
Derived Formspressingly, adverbpressingness, noun




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 pressing

"exerting pressure," mid-14c., present participle adjective from press (v.1). Sense of "urgent, compelling, forceful" is from 1705. Related: Pressingly.



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 pressing


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.