Definition of probation in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The release of an offender from detention, subject to a period of good behaviour under supervision:

    ‘I went to court and was put on probation’
    • ‘He was tested for alcohol and failed, then was arrested for breaching his probation order.’
    • ‘In a four-star hotel in Swindon he was arrested, remanded and released on probation.’
    • ‘There would be advance from punishment to probation and from probation to release.’
    • ‘She was put on probation for 18 months and ordered to pay the conductor £100 compensation.’
    • ‘He was given a community service order and put on probation.’
    1. 1.1 A process of testing or observing the character or abilities of a person who is new to a role or job:
      ‘for an initial period of probation your manager will closely monitor your progress’
      • ‘He is the new Scotland captain but he's still on probation as far as I'm concerned.’
      • ‘One employee was suspended without pay for two weeks and another was put on three-month probation.’
      • ‘Those who are successful then go on probation for another six months and are allocated a mentor.’
      • ‘He did not condemn the new Labour administration, but rather felt that they were on probation.’
      • ‘To my surprise, I found a letter in the mail stating that I was on academic probation.’
      • ‘There have been no calls for his head as yet by institutional investors but he is regarded, at least by some, as being on probation.’
      • ‘Every week the teachers pick the three worst-performing students and put them on probation.’
      • ‘We are on probation, which is right and proper, and we have a year to prepare, which is excellent.’
      • ‘I was a first year teacher, on probation, and I didn't get particularly good classes.’
      • ‘I had a bad semester, being away from home in a new town and with nobody around, and ended up on academic probation.’
      • ‘In the past many new teachers had to work for months or even years in supply work to complete their probation.’
      trial period, test period, experimental period, trial
      apprenticeship, traineeship, training, novitiate
      View synonyms


Late Middle English (denoting testing or investigation): from Old French probacion, from Latin probatio(n-), from probare to test, prove (see prove). The legal use dates from the late 19th century.