Definition of prove in English:

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Pronunciation: /pruːv/

verb (past participle proved or proven /ˈpruːv(ə)n/ /ˈprəʊv(ə)n/)

1 [with object] Demonstrate the truth or existence of (something) by evidence or argument: the concept is difficult to prove (as adjective proven) a proven ability to work hard
More example sentences
  • Illuminating reality without recourse to truth is proving a difficult proposition.
  • It emphasised that ‘the courts are not the place to prove new medical truths’.
  • An indictment is far from a conviction but as Martin Kramer points out, this refusal to recognise inconvenient truths is also proving an indictment on their claims of expertise.
demonstrate, show, show beyond doubt, show to be true, manifest, produce/submit proof, produce/submit evidence, establish evidence, evince;
witness to, give substance to, determine, demonstrate the truth of, substantiate, corroborate, verify, ratify, validate, authenticate, attest, certify, document, bear out, confirm
1.1 (US prove something up) Law Establish the genuineness and validity of (a will).
Example sentences
  • The Moores stayed on the homestead long enough to prove it up and get title which would be three years.
  • I'm sure he was wondering who could prove it up, and I started thinking I was going to be called as an adverse witness.
2 [with object and complement] Demonstrate to be the specified thing by evidence or argument: if they are proved guilty we won’t trade with them
More example sentences
  • I've always thought that Scott's innocent until he's proven guilty and I'm going to stick with that.
  • And the last I checked, in the United States, you are innocent until you're proven guilty.
  • In Indiana you are guilty until you are proven innocent, and with that in mind you can keep the skater out of the streets but you cannot keep the street out of the skater.
2.1 [no object, with complement] Be seen or found to be: the scheme has proved a great success
More example sentences
  • Completeness, however, is an elusive goal and proves quite difficult to achieve in the arena of electronic state government information.
  • Optimism proved short-lived, though, as Sheffield scored twice more to earn a convincing victory.
  • But he was determined to prove he could achieve success somehow - and eventually he did.
turn out, be found, happen
2.2 (prove oneself) Demonstrate one’s abilities or courage: she displayed an ingenuousness which sprung from a yearning need to prove herself
More example sentences
  • He says the Executive and SE are right to concentrate on specific business areas, such as life sciences, in which the country has proved itself to have some ability.
  • The intelligence agencies, humiliated by their failure to forestall the attacks, are desperate to prove themselves.
  • He is desperate to prove himself, but may have to wait until later in the season to get the chance.
demonstrate one's abilities/qualities/courage, show one's (true) mettle, show what one is made of
2.3 [with object] rare Test the accuracy of (a mathematical calculation).
Example sentences
  • Once academic scientific studies were established they rejected and ridiculed anything spiritual or metaphysical if it could not be proven by a mathematical formula.
  • What no one is yet prepared to do is go on record as saying he has proved the Poincare Conjecture.
  • She proves a well known (to mathematicians!) theorem of homological algebra.
2.4 [with object] Subject (a gun) to a testing process: firearms proved for black powder should not be used with smokeless ammunition
More example sentences
  • Proof marks indicate the soundness of the gun when it was last proved, but the gun may have been so altered that it is unproved in its present state.
  • Each gun is thoroughly proved before it leaves the factory.
3 [no object] (Of bread dough) become aerated by the action of yeast; rise.
Example sentences
  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove for about two hours in a warm area.
  • When making bread with the fermented dough, the dough must be removed from the fridge at least 2 hours in advance, to allow it to prove.
  • Prove dough for 60-90 minutes until dough passes the finger-tip test.


For complex historical reasons, prove developed two past participles: proved and proven. Both are correct and can be used more or less interchangeably ( this hasn’t been proved yet; this hasn’t been proven yet). In British English proved is more common, with the exception that proven is always used when the word is an adjective coming before the noun: a proven talent, not a proved talent.



not proven

Scots Law A verdict that there is insufficient evidence to establish guilt or innocence.
Example sentences
  • McGraw walked free from the High Court in Edinburgh after a not proven verdict.
  • Spurling, in attempting loyally to defend her, has offered a timely and elegant defence in a cause célèbre in which the verdict must surely be not proven.
  • The fall-out will be even worse should the not proven verdict be called into play.

prove someone wrong

Show that what someone says is wrong or incorrect: if you can prove me wrong let me know and I’ll update the review
More example sentences
  • Having his eyes opened to the brother's real character, he was hoping to not be proven wrong about the sister.
  • Some of the bets on future outcomes are proven to be wrong.
  • Pessimists who say mergers often destroy shareholder value will be proved wrong, he says.



Pronunciation: /pruːvəˈbɪlɪti/
Example sentences
  • British journalism has taken on an increasingly free-wheeling and risk-taking style of late, with quote of dubious veracity, stories of dubious provability and an increasing tendency to let political bias colour the reporting of news.
  • This is because intuitionist logic takes truth to coincide with direct provability, and it may be that certain statements, such as Goldbach's conjecture in mathematics, are neither provably the case nor provably not the case.
  • While the model of the ‘selfish gene’ provides an interesting intellectual sketch of the motivations behind behavior, it's feasibility / provability is already stretched to its limits.


Pronunciation: /ˈpruːvəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • According to Drudge, the article exposes several demonstrably provable factual inaccuracies in Brock's book.
  • For example, we might say that we have a theory about why a person committed a crime. The meaning of the word in this context is that the theory is an idea or set of ideas which are not proven or even provable.
  • Evolution is not totally proven (or provable for that matter).


Pronunciation: /ˈpruːvəbli/
Example sentences
  • Keeping criminals in prison longer is the only thing that provably helps to protect us from them - something that I have advocated for many years.
  • I left her, I can't deny that and I'm sorry about the pain but so much of what was written is provably untrue.
  • I think he's dead wrong, and provably so in his remarks in the area of climate science, yet I don't think the blogosphere is the best arena for the debate.


Example sentences
  • Coffee, tea, wine, brandy and spices were forbidden to provers and so was chess (which Hahnemann considered too exciting), but beer was allowed and moderate exercise was encouraged.
  • The threshold has to be low, to prevent arbitrary exclusion of reasonable provers, but it cannot be nonzero zero, because in the real world it is hard to check a proof with absolute certainty.
  • The provers must give details of all new bodily sensations, symptoms, dreams, emotional changes, discharges and anything else that may develop after taking the remedy.


Middle English: from Old French prover, from Latin probare 'test, approve, demonstrate', from probus 'good'.

  • proof from Middle English:

    This came via Old French proeve from Latin probare, ‘to test or prove’. Proof spirit or 100 per cent proof spirit was originally defined as a solution of alcohol that will ignite when mixed with gunpowder—in Britain this meant an alcohol content of 57.07 per cent. In the expression the proof of the pudding is in the eating, proof is used in the sense ‘test’ rather than ‘verification, proving to be true’. Probare is also the source of prove (Middle English), probe (Late Middle English), probate (Late Middle English) where you have to prove the will in law, and probation (Late Middle English) which is a form of testing.

Words that rhyme with prove

approve, groove, improve, move, you've

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: prove

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