or pro·gram·ing

[proh-gram-ing, -gruh-ming]


the act or process of planning or writing a program.
Radio and Television.
  1. the selection and scheduling of programs for transmission, as for a television station or network, or an Internet-based digital distributor.
  2. the programs scheduled.

Origin of programming

First recorded in 1885–90; program + -ing1


[proh-gram, -gruh m]


a plan of action to accomplish a specified end: a school lunch program.
a plan or schedule of activities, procedures, etc., to be followed.
a broadcasted television or radio production or similar Internet-based content produced for distribution.
a list of items, pieces, performers, etc., in a musical, theatrical, or other entertainment.
an entertainment with reference to its pieces or numbers: a program of American and French music.
a planned, coordinated group of activities, procedures, etc., often for a specific purpose, or a facility offering such a series of activities: a drug rehabilitation program; a graduate program in linguistics.
a prospectus or syllabus: a program of courses being offered.
Also called computer program. Digital Technology. a precise sequence of instructions enabling a computer to perform a task; a piece of software.

verb (used with object), pro·grammed or pro·gramed, pro·gram·ming or pro·gram·ing.

to schedule as part of a program.
Digital Technology. to write code for (a computer program or application).
to insert or encode specific operating instructions into (a machine or apparatus): We'll program the bells to ring at ten-minute intervals.
to insert (instructions) into a machine or apparatus: An automatic release has been programmed into the lock as a safety feature.
to cause to absorb or incorporate automatic responses, attitudes, or the like; condition: Our parents programmed us to respect our elders.
to set, regulate, or modify so as to produce a specific response or reaction: Program your eating habits to eliminate sweets.

verb (used without object), pro·grammed or pro·gramed, pro·gram·ming or pro·gram·ing.

to plan or write a program.
Digital Technology. to write computer code.
Also especially British, pro·gramme.

Origin of program

1625–35; < Late Latin programma < Greek prógramma “public notice in writing.” See pro-2, -gram1
Related formsre·pro·gram, verb (used with object), re·pro·grammed or re·pro·gramed, re·pro·gram·ming or re·pro·gram·ing.un·pro·grammed, adjective
Can be confusedpogrom program Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for programming

Contemporary Examples of programming

Historical Examples of programming

  • The programming is shallowed to the lowest (and widest) common denominator.

    After the Rain

    Sam Vaknin

  • The sappy one set the leg and withdrew, programming a call for the next day.

    The Sunset Trail

    Alfred Henry Lewis

  • Further on he found the programming screen, which clicked off the progress of the flight in hours, minutes, and seconds.

  • The operator was sitting at the programming punch, carefully going over a long streamer of tape.

    Alarm Clock

    Everett B. Cole

  • No stronger proof of this can be given than the Boolean logic embedded in computer hardware and programming languages.

British Dictionary definitions for programming


sometimes programme


a sequence of coded instructions fed into a computer, enabling it to perform specified logical and arithmetical operations on data

verb -grams, -gramming, -grammed, -grammes, -gramming or -grammed

(tr) to feed a program into (a computer)
(tr) to arrange (data) into a suitable form so that it can be processed by a computer
(intr) to write a program
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 programming



1630s, "public notice," from Late Latin programma "proclamation, edict," from Greek programma "a written public notice," from stem of prographein "to write publicly," from pro- "forth" (see pro-) + graphein "to write" (see -graphy).

General sense of "a definite plan or scheme" is recorded from 1837. Meaning "list of pieces at a concert, playbill" first recorded 1805 and retains the original sense. That of "objects or events suggested by music" is from 1854. Sense of "broadcasting presentation" is from 1923. Computer sense (noun and verb) is from 1945. Spelling programme, established in Britain, is from French in modern use and began to be used early 19c., originally especially in the "playbill" sense. Program music attested from 1877.



1889, "write program notes;" 1896, "arrange according to program," from program (n.). Of computers from 1945. From 1963 in the figurative sense of "to train to behave in a predetermined way." Related: Programmed; programming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

programming in Science



A organized system of instructions and data interpreted by a computer. Programming instructions are often referred to as code. See more at source code. See also programming language.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

programming in Culture


A series of instructions given to a computer to direct it to carry out certain operations. The term code is often used to denote large-scale operations.

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.