v. proved, proved or prov·en (prvən), prov·ing, proves
a. To establish the truth or validity of (something) by the presentation of argument or evidence: The novel proves that the essayist can write in more than one genre. The storm proved him to be wrong in his prediction.
b. To demonstrate the reality of (something): He proved his strength by doing 50 pushups.
c. To show (oneself) to be what is specified or to have a certain characteristic: proved herself to be a formidable debater; proved herself to be worthy of the task.
a. To establish by the required amount of evidence: proved his case in court.
b. To establish the authenticity of (a will).
a. To demonstrate the validity of (a hypothesis or proposition).
b. To verify (the result of a calculation).
4. To subject (a gun, for instance) to a test.
5. Printing To make a sample impression of (type); proof.
6. Archaic To find out or learn (something) through experience.
To be shown to be such; turn out: a theory that proved impractical in practice; a schedule that proved to be too demanding.
To turn out well; succeed.
[Middle English proven, from Old French prover, from Latin probāre, to test, from probus, good; see per1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
prov′a·bili·ty, prova·ble·ness n.
Usage Note: Prove has two past participles: proved and proven. Proved is the older form. Proven is a variant. The Middle English spellings of prove included preven, a form that died out in England but survived in Scotland, and the past participle proven probably rose by analogy with verbs like weave, woven and cleave, cloven. Proven was originally used in Scottish legal contexts, such as The jury ruled that the charges were not proven. In the 1900s, proven made inroads into the territory once dominated by proved, so that now the two forms compete on equal footing as participles. However, when used as an adjective before a noun, proven is now the more common word: a proven talent.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.