[ presh-er ]
See synonyms for: pressurepressuredpressurespressuring on

  1. the exertion of force upon a surface by an object, fluid, etc., in contact with it: the pressure of earth against a wall.

  2. Physics. force per unit area. Symbol: P: Compare stress (def. 6).

  1. Meteorology. atmospheric pressure.

  2. Electricity. electromotive force.

  3. the state of being pressed or compressed.

  4. harassment; oppression: the pressures of daily life.

  5. a constraining or compelling force or influence: the social pressures of city life;financial pressure.

  6. urgency, as of affairs or business: He works well under pressure.

  7. Obsolete. that which is impressed.

verb (used with object),pres·sured, pres·sur·ing.
  1. to force (someone) toward a particular end; influence: They pressured him into accepting the contract.

Origin of pressure

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English (noun), from Latin pressūra; see press1, -ure

Other words from pressure

  • pres·sure·less, adjective
  • in·ter·pres·sure, adjective
  • non·pres·sure, noun, adverb
  • su·per·pres·sure, noun, adjective
  • un·der·pres·sure, noun
  • un·pres·sured, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use pressure in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for pressure


/ (ˈprɛʃə) /

  1. the state of pressing or being pressed

  2. the exertion of force by one body on the surface of another

  1. a moral force that compels: to bring pressure to bear

  2. an urgent claim or demand or series of urgent claims or demands: to work under pressure

  3. a burdensome condition that is hard to bear: the pressure of grief

  4. the normal force applied to a unit area of a surface, usually measured in pascals (newtons per square metre), millibars, torr, or atmospheres: Symbol: p, P

  1. (tr) to constrain or compel, as by the application of moral force

  2. another word for pressurize

Origin of pressure

C14: from Late Latin pressūra a pressing, from Latin premere to press

Derived forms of pressure

  • pressureless, adjective

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

Scientific definitions for pressure


[ prĕshər ]

  1. The force per unit area that one region of a gas, liquid, or solid exerts on another. Pressure is usually measured in Pascal units, atmospheres, or pounds per square inch.♦ A substance is said to have negative pressure if some other substance exerts more force per unit area on it than vice versa. Its value is simply the negative of the pressure exerted by the other substance.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for pressure


The force exerted on a given area. (See atmospheric pressure.)

Notes for pressure

The most familiar measure of pressure is psi (pounds per square inch), used to rate pressure in automobile and bicycle tires.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.