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See also: prové, próve, and prøve


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English proven, from Old English prōfian (to esteem, regard as, evince, try, prove) and Old French prover (to prove), both from Late Latin probō (test, try, examine, approve, show to be good or fit, prove, verb), from probus (good, worthy, excellent), from Proto-Indo-European *pro-bhwo- (being in front, prominent), from Proto-Indo-European *pro-, *per- (toward) + Proto-Indo-European *bhu- (to be). Displaced native Middle English sothen (to prove), from Old English sōþian (to prove). More at for, be, soothe.


Alternative forms[edit]


prove (third-person singular simple present proves, present participle proving, simple past proved, past participle proved or proven)

  1. (transitive) To demonstrate that something is true or viable; to give proof for.
    • 1749, John Cleland, Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, Part 3
      Mr. H …, whom no distinctions of that sort seemed to disturb, scarce gave himself or me breathing time from the last encounter, but, as if he had task'd himself to prove that the appearances of his vigour were not signs hung out in vain, in a few minutes he was in a condition for renewing the onset
    • 2012 August 5, Nathan Rabin, “TV: Review: THE SIMPSONS (CLASSIC): “I Love Lisa” (season 4, episode 15; originally aired 02/11/1993)”, in (Please provide the book title or journal name):
      Valentine’s Day means different things for different people. For Homer, it means forking over a hundred dollars for a dusty box of chocolates at the Kwik-E-Mart after characteristically forgetting the holiday yet again. For Ned, it’s another opportunity to prove his love for his wife. Most germane to the episode, for Lisa, Valentine’s Day means being the only person in her entire class to give Ralph a Valentine after noticing him looking crestfallen and alone at his desk.
    • 2013 June 7, Gary Younge, “Hypocrisy lies at heart of Manning prosecution”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 188, number 26, page 18:
      WikiLeaks did not cause these uprisings but it certainly informed them. The dispatches revealed details of corruption and kleptocracy that many Tunisians suspected, but could not prove, and would cite as they took to the streets. They also exposed the blatant discrepancy between the west's professed values and actual foreign policies.
    I will prove that my method is more effective than yours.
  2. (intransitive) To turn out; to manifest.
    It proved to be a cold day.
  3. (copulative) To turn out to be.
    • 1964, Jean Merrill, The Pushcart War, 2014 The New York Review Children's Collection edition, ISBN 9781590178195, chapter 33, page 199:
      This battle did not take place in the streets. It took place entirely in words, and it was to prove the turning point in the war.
    • 2012 May 5, Phil McNulty, “Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool”, in BBC Sport:
      He met Luis Suarez's cross at the far post, only for Chelsea keeper Petr Cech to show brilliant reflexes to deflect his header on to the bar. Carroll turned away to lead Liverpool's insistent protests that the ball had crossed the line but referee Phil Dowd and assistant referee Andrew Garratt waved play on, with even a succession of replays proving inconclusive.
    Have an exit strategy should your calculations prove incorrect.
  4. (transitive) To put to the test, to make trial of.
    They took the experimental car to the proving-grounds.
    The exception proves the rule.
    The hypothesis has not been proven to our satisfaction.
  5. (transitive) To ascertain or establish the genuineness or validity of; to verify.
    to prove a will
  6. (archaic, intransitive) To experience
    • Spenser
      Where she, captived long, great woes did prove.
  7. (printing, dated, transitive) To take a trial impression of; to take a proof of.
    to prove a page
Usage notes[edit]

As the past participle of prove, proven is often discouraged, with proved preferred – “have proved” rather than “have proven”. However, they are both about equally common in everyday use in US English. Both are used and considered correct in UK English, but “have proved” is more common.[1][2][3]

Historically, proved is the older form, while proven arose as a Scottish variant – see etymology. Used in legal writing from the mid-17th century, it entered literary usage more slowly, only becoming significant in the 19th century, with the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson among the earliest frequent users (presumably for reasons of meter).[3] In the 19th century, proven was widely discouraged, and remained significantly less common through the mid-20th century (proved being used approximately four times as often); by the late 20th century it came to be used about equally often in US English.[3]

As an attributive adjective, proven is much[3][1] more commonly used,[2] and proved is widely considered an error – “a proven method”, not *“a proved method”.

  1. 1.0 1.1 prove” (US) / “prove” (UK) in Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press.
  2. 2.0 2.1 “prove” in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin, 2000, ISBN 978-0-395-82517-4.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 prove” in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1996–.
  • proved” in Paul Brians, Common Errors in English Usage, 2nd rev. and exp. edition, Wilsonville, Or.: William, James & Company, 2009, ISBN 978-1-59028-207-6.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Etymology 2[edit]

Simple past form of proove, conjugated in the Germanic strong declension, on the pattern of choosechose.




  1. simple past tense of proove


Most common English words before 1923 in Project Gutenberg: working · breath · camp · #990: prove · engaged · America · servant

Further reading[edit]



Hyphenation: pro‧ve


prove c (plural proven, diminutive provetje n)

  1. A gift out of love
  2. A life-long maintenance



From Latin proba.


prove f (plural provis)

  1. proof
  2. test, examination, trial
  3. evidence
  4. try

Related terms[edit]



prove f

  1. plural of prova






  1. First-person singular (eu) present subjunctive of provar
  2. Third-person singular (ele, ela, also used with tu and você?) present subjunctive of provar
  3. Third-person singular (você) affirmative imperative of provar
  4. Third-person singular (você) negative imperative of provar