Defined:  1a : to resolve (as a sentence) into component parts of speech and describe them grammatically

b : to describe grammatically by stating the part of speech and explaining the inflection and syntactical relationships 2: to examine in a minute way : analyze critically <having trouble parsing … explanations for dwindling market shares — R. S. Anson> TRANSITIVE VERB

1 to give a grammatical description of a word or a group of words

2 to admit of being parsed TRANSITIVE VERB (


Parsing sentences in English class usually involved diagramming.  No way around it.  To parse words in everyday terms might mean picking sentences apart to glean a hidden or deeper meaning.  Do not confuse this process with pedanticism.


. . . . . . . . . . .

1. To break (a sentence) down into its component parts of speech with an explanation of the form, function, and syntactical relationship of each part.
2. To describe (a word) by stating its part of speech, form, and syntactical relationships in a sentence.
3. a. To examine closely or subject to detailed analysis, especially by breaking up into components: “What are we missing by parsing the behavior of chimpanzees into the conventional categories recognized largely from our own behavior?” (Stephen Jay Gould).
b. To make sense of; comprehend: I simply couldn’t parse what you just said.
4. Computer Science To analyze or separate (input, for example) into more easily processed components.
To admit of being parsed: sentences that do not parse easily.

[Probably from Middle English pars, part of speech, from Latin pars (rtinis), part (of speech); see per-2 in Indo-European roots.]

(The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.)


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