[proh-bey-shuh n]
  1. the act of testing.
  2. the testing or trial of a person's conduct, character, qualifications, or the like.
  3. the state or period of such testing or trial.
  4. Law.
    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.
  5. Education. a trial period or condition of students in certain educational institutions who are being permitted to redeem failures, misconduct, etc.
  6. the testing or trial of a candidate for membership in a religious body or order, for holy orders, etc.
  7. Archaic. proof.

Origin of probation

1375–1425; late Middle English probacion < Latin probātiōn- (stem of probātiō). See probate, -ion
Related formspro·ba·tion·al, pro·ba·tion·ar·y [proh-bey-shuh-ner-ee] /proʊˈbeɪ ʃəˌnɛr i/, adjectivepro·ba·tion·ship, nounnon·pro·ba·tion, nounun·pro·ba·tion·al, adjectiveun·pro·ba·tion·ar·y, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for probational

Historical Examples of probational

British Dictionary definitions for probational


  1. a system of dealing with offenders by placing them under the supervision of a probation officer
  2. on probation
    1. under the supervision of a probation officer
    2. undergoing a test period
  3. a trial period, as for a teacher, religious novitiate, etc
  4. the act of proving or testing
  5. a period during which a new employee may have his employment terminated on the grounds of unsuitability
Derived Formsprobational or probationary, adjectiveprobationally, 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

Word Origin and History for probational



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