See more synonyms for prose on
  1. the ordinary form of spoken or written language, without metrical structure, as distinguished from poetry or verse.
  2. matter-of-fact, commonplace, or dull expression, quality, discourse, etc.
  3. Liturgy. a hymn sung after the gradual, originating from a practice of setting words to the jubilatio of the alleluia.
  1. of, in, or pertaining to prose.
  2. commonplace; dull; prosaic.
verb (used with object), prosed, pros·ing.
  1. to turn into or express in prose.
verb (used without object), prosed, pros·ing.
  1. to write or talk in a dull, matter-of-fact manner.

Origin of prose

1300–50; Middle English < Middle French < Latin prōsa (ōrātiō) literally, straightforward (speech), feminine of prōsus, for prōrsus, contraction of prōversus, past participle of prōvertere to turn forward, equivalent to prō- pro-1 + vertere to turn
Related formsprose·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for prose

Contemporary Examples of prose

Historical Examples of prose

British Dictionary definitions for prose


  1. spoken or written language as in ordinary usage, distinguished from poetry by its lack of a marked metrical structure
  2. a passage set for translation into a foreign language
  3. commonplace or dull discourse, expression, etc
  4. RC Church a hymn recited or sung after the gradual at Mass
  5. (modifier) written in prose
  6. (modifier) matter-of-fact
  1. to write or say (something) in prose
  2. (intr) to speak or write in a tedious style
Derived Formsproselike, adjective

Word Origin for prose

C14: via Old French from Latin phrase prōsa ōrātiō straightforward speech, from prorsus prosaic, from prōvertere to turn forwards, from pro- 1 + vertere to turn
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 prose

c.1300, "story, narration," from Old French prose (13c.), from Latin prosa oratio "straightforward or direct speech" (without the ornaments of verse), from prosa, fem. of prosus, earlier prorsus "straightforward, direct," from Old Latin provorsus "(moving) straight ahead," from pro- "forward" (see pro-) + vorsus "turned," past participle of vertere "to turn" (see verse).

"Good prose, to say nothing of the original thoughts it conveys, may be infinitely varied in modulation. It is only an extension of metres, an amplification of harmonies, of which even the best and most varied poetry admits but few." [Walter Savage Landor, "Imaginary Conversations"]

Meaning "prose writing; non-poetry" is from mid-14c. The sense of "dull or commonplace expression" is from 1680s, out of earlier sense "plain expression" (1560s). Those who lament the want of an English agent noun to correspond to poet might try prosaist (1776), proser (1620s), or Frenchified prosateur (1880), though the first two in their day also acquired in English the secondary sense "dull writer."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper