Definition of prompt in US English:



[with object]
  • 1(of an event or fact) cause or bring about (an action or feeling)

    ‘his death has prompted an industry-wide investigation of safety violations’
    • ‘The move has prompted criticism from media and journalist organisations around the world.’
    • ‘Perhaps this reaction to development is prompted in part by the way it is treated in the translations.’
    • ‘Indeed, the figures prompt more questions than answers.’
    • ‘The study has been prompted by the fact the number of retests has more than doubled since 1999.’
    • ‘No official reason was given by the government, raising speculation that it was prompted by critical news reports.’
    • ‘The contract prohibits layoffs unless prompted by events beyond the company's control.’
    • ‘This may have been prompted by the fact that I have a job interview on Thursday.’
    • ‘His decision was undeniably prompted by the fact that a girl he fancied was performing in the school play.’
    • ‘The silence of the food queues is prompted by the fear of political violence which pervades many towns.’
    • ‘Jerome's explanation only prompted more questions, but Dale held his tongue.’
    • ‘Boots' withdrawal was reportedly prompted by concerns that the deal could offend its core customers.’
    • ‘The findings prompted an enormous response in the media, as any news of GM does these days.’
    • ‘Still others think it has been prompted in part by family dynamics, primarily divorce.’
    • ‘The revelation has prompted an outcry from parents, legal experts and politicians who demanded further investigations.’
    • ‘The recruiting crunch has also prompted calls for the military to change longstanding traditions.’
    • ‘The FDA's announcement has prompted a flurry of statements from politicians and organisations on both sides of the issue.’
    • ‘The outcome also prompted immediate speculation in London that Britain's planned referendum on the treaty was now pointless.’
    • ‘The heavy security was apparently prompted by intelligence reports that unidentified groups planned to disrupt the controversial exercises.’
    • ‘Although teasing resembles bullying because it can prompt feelings of anger or embarrassment, teasing can be less hostile and done with humor, rather than harm.’
    • ‘My letter to Holiday Inn about the event prompted a classic non-response.’
    give rise to, bring about, cause, occasion, result in, lead to, elicit, produce, bring on, engender, induce, call forth, evoke, precipitate, trigger, spark off, provoke, instigate
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Cause (someone) to take a course of action.
      ‘a demonstration by 20,000 people prompted the government to step up security’
      • ‘The source of the outbreak was traced to neighbouring Zimbabwe, prompting Botswana to erect a high-cost electric fence on the border.’
      • ‘It also showed that the majority of Scots think smoke-free restaurants should be the norm, prompting Deacon to call on the pub and restaurant trade to take urgent action to create smokeless zones.’
      • ‘This prompts Josh Chafetz to respond with a pointed observation.’
      • ‘Another incident which prompted me to write this post happened in my own store.’
      • ‘A snag in the sound system brought the music and dance to an abrupt halt, prompting Archana to crack a few jokes at the expense of the electrical crew.’
      • ‘Of course, they could be prompted to write in response to emotions on a biochemical rather than conscious level.’
      • ‘That prompts Kelly to observe that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.’
      • ‘Winslow's instincts prompted her to change course three years ago to pursue her dream of becoming an author.’
      • ‘According to Moore, it even prompted the Elks to change their policy.’
      • ‘Bidding for the wedding invitations had spiralled from less than £200 to more than £1m, prompting eBay to warn that the item was likely to attract hoax bids.’
      • ‘Pieces of foam and file also broke free during that shuttle launch, prompting NASA to cancel plans for all further shuttle flights.’
      • ‘The competition watchdog twice rejected the proposed sale this year, prompting AGL to launch a legal challenge in September.’
      • ‘That would of course prompt him to talk about the park yesterday.’
      • ‘After learning of his wife's difficulties, Des was prompted into action.’
      • ‘All the psychotherapy researchers should be prompted to ask how it can be so.’
      • ‘Their interest was definitely peaked, but they were still not prompted into action.’
      • ‘Instead it stirred resentment both inside and outside the party, prompting Abdullah to say he would be willing to face a contested vote.’
      • ‘I was prompted to write this following our final exam.’
      • ‘Power shortages are prompting China to sell shares in its five biggest power generators, two years after they were formed when the government split up the State Power monopoly.’
      • ‘Recently he went a bit far, and I was prompted to write a short piece in reply.’
      induce, make, move, cause, motivate, lead, dispose, persuade, incline, encourage, stimulate, prod, impel, spur on, urge, inspire
      View synonyms
  • 2Assist or encourage (a hesitating speaker) to say something.

    with direct speech ‘“And the picture?” he prompted’
    • ‘Mistakenly believing that he needs encouragement, I prompt: ‘does it make you happy to write?’’
    • ‘It must be nearly thirty years since I have read it but I could almost quote it as soon as the first line prompted me.’
    • ‘The elder daughter silently mouths the word to prompt her sister.’
    remind, cue, give someone a cue, help out, coach, feed
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Supply a forgotten word or line to (an actor) during the performance of a play.
      • ‘Considering that each has no other actor to prompt them, they do a remarkable job.’
      • ‘Not only are there no other performers to distract the audience, there is no handy support mechanism to prompt a line.’
      • ‘Naomi and Holly, playing the aunts, had to keep prompting me with my lines.’
      • ‘Yes, and we had to keep prompting her with her lines and said most of them ourselves.’
    2. 2.2Computing (of a computer) request input from (a user).
      • ‘You will be prompted for your password, and the file should copy to the current directory.’
      • ‘You will be prompted to enter your credit card if you didn't do so before.’
      • ‘The user would then be prompted to enter their account number and the generated string.’
      • ‘When prompted for a password, be sure to write it down.’
      • ‘You can't shop, bank or read many newspapers online without being prompted for a password.’


  • 1An act of assisting or encouraging a hesitating speaker.

    ‘with barely a prompt, Barbara talked on’
    • ‘I sat here and said ‘Aye’ in response to Mr Speaker's prompts.’
    • ‘Scott's own contribution to the evening seems to have been limited to a whispered prompt.’
    • ‘Students with ADHD might need additional prompts or cues to remind them of what is expected.’
    • ‘Practise active, reflective listening - listen carefully, repeat what you've heard to make sure you understand and give positive prompts to encourage your child to continue.’
    • ‘In fact, the boy's teacher customarily sent home written prompts that his mother used to encourage her son to talk.’
    1. 1.1 A word or phrase spoken as a reminder to an actor of a forgotten word or line.
      • ‘While the other performers continued mouthing their parts to give the impression that a technical fault had occurred, the culprit was given a prompt.’
      • ‘Phil stormed onto the stage, pulled the ear piece from Gary's ear and demanded that he do his trick without the aid of offstage prompts.’
      reminder, cue, feed
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2
      another term for prompter
    3. 1.3Computing A message or symbol on a screen to show that the system is waiting for input.
      • ‘There is no root password, so you will be given a command prompt.’
      • ‘Delete the existing DOS partition by following the prompts on screen.’
      • ‘A display manager provides a graphical login prompt for the user.’
      • ‘However, a curious thing happens when you open a DOS prompt.’
      • ‘Note that Windows, except at the DOS command prompt, supports forward slashes in all file paths.’
  • 2The time limit for the payment of an account, as stated on a prompt note.


  • 1Done without delay; immediate.

    ‘the owner would have died but for the prompt action of two paramedics’
    • ‘The public and the media would criticize the police if no prompt action were taken.’
    • ‘Prompt response and appropriate action is necessary to minimize damage in a water loss.’
    • ‘The best control is prompt diagnosis and removal of sick trees.’
    • ‘Prompt response to all citizens' calls for assistance should be a priority.’
    • ‘I sent a note to the authors and received a prompt reply from them.’
    • ‘City and county officials should take prompt action to gain the trust of citizens.’
    • ‘The instantaneous nature of the net then provokes a prompt response.’
    • ‘I must commend the RTA for a prompt reply to my letter, and their immediate attention to this dangerous situation.’
    • ‘In some animal studies, such prompt treatment has been shown to prevent infection.’
    • ‘My customers can be sure of prompt delivery of meat and poultry.’
    • ‘They backtracked hastily and asked simply to be able to publish a prompt response.’
    • ‘This could be resolved by carrying the corrections over to next week's edition, but would that appease irate members of the public who had been promised a prompt correction this week?’
    • ‘The boycott call resulted in a prompt response.’
    • ‘Thank you for your prompt reply to my e-mail sent yesterday.’
    • ‘Prompt treatment as soon as the problem is noticed will be most effective.’
    • ‘The nature of media is that all of these requests require a prompt response.’
    • ‘Only prompt action by one of the pilots, who aborted his take-off after reaching a speed of more than 100 mph, prevented a collision at Manchester airport.’
    • ‘They say prompt action enabled them to avoid measures that would have affected patients.’
    • ‘Once a diagnosis of breast cancer is made, women should receive prompt, planned treatment.’
    • ‘The day I brought Band-Aids, a large number of animals suddenly needed prompt attention.’
    quick, swift, rapid, speedy, fast, direct, immediate, instant, instantaneous, expeditious, early, punctual, in good time, on time, timely
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of a person) acting without delay.
      ‘the fans were prompt and courteous in complying with police requests’
      • ‘The doctors and staff were very prompt in checking me out and were not sure whether I was having a severe angina attack or a mild heart attack.’
      • ‘Friendly staff are very prompt with their service, and ambient tunes are played at a background level.’
      • ‘Be prepared to share your crops if you're not prompt at harvesting them.’
      • ‘I called the police and they were very prompt but they didn't catch him.’
      • ‘I am, generally, a prompt person and I'm giving you ample notice.’
    2. 1.2 (of goods) for immediate delivery and payment.
      quick, swift, rapid, speedy, fast, direct, immediate, instant, instantaneous, expeditious, early, punctual, in good time, on time, timely
      View synonyms


Middle English (as a verb): based on Old French prompt or Latin promptus ‘brought to light’, also ‘prepared, ready’, past participle of promere ‘to produce’, from pro- ‘out, forth’ + emere ‘take’.