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[proh-gram, -gruh m] /ˈproʊ græm, -grəm/
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 radio or television performance or production.
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.
  1. a systematic plan for the automatic solution of a problem by a computer.
  2. the precise sequence of instructions enabling a computer to solve a problem.
verb (used with object), programmed or programed, programming or programing.
to schedule as part of a program.
Computers. to prepare a program for.
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), programmed or programed, programming or programing.
to plan or write a program.
Also, especially British, programme.
1625-35; < Late Latin programma < Greek prógramma public notice in writing. See pro-2, -gram1
Related forms
reprogram, verb (used with object), reprogrammed or reprogramed, reprogramming or reprograming.
unprogrammed, adjective
Can be confused
pogrom, program. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for programs
  • Model education, social, and environment programs are underway with support from multilateral development organizations.
  • Our dynamic museum programs allow you to step through our doorway into history.
  • Learn with us during our programs and interactive activities.
  • Enjoy interactive, hands-on exciting exhibits and programs in spacious exhibit halls.
  • Engaging exhibits and special programs encourage family fun and learning across generations.
  • Students want hybrid programs that blend online and face-to-face experiences.
  • Get information on education programs that could help you increase your earning power.
  • Similarly, we're always told that certain government programs are untouchable.
  • The development of business accounting software programs has made the introduction of activity-based costing more feasible.
  • Support programs for low income households and infrastructure spending are found to be highly expansionary.
British Dictionary definitions for programs


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, -grammed
(transitive) to feed a program into (a computer)
(transitive) to arrange (data) into a suitable form so that it can be processed by a computer
(intransitive) 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
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Word Origin and History for programs



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
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programs 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 © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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programs in Culture

program definition

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 American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for programs



To train; predispose by rigorous teaching, condition: He's programmed to be polite to old ladies and all (1966+ fr computers)

Related Terms

crash program

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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