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probation (n.)

early 15c., probacioun, "trial, experiment, test, act of examining with a probe," from Old French probacion "proof, evidence" (14c., Modern French probation) and directly from Latin probationem (nominative probatio) "approval, assent; a proving, trial, inspection, examination," noun of action from past-participle stem of probare "to test" (see prove).

Meaning "testing of a person's conduct" (especially as a trial period of a candidate for membership) is from early 15c., originally especially a testing or trial by adversity. The theological sense is recorded by 1520s; the criminal justice sense is recorded by 1866. As a verb from 1640s. Related: Probationer; probationary.

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Definitions of probation from WordNet

probation (n.)
a trial period during which your character and abilities are tested to see whether you are suitable for work or for membership;
probation (n.)
a trial period during which an offender has time to redeem himself or herself;
probation (n.)
(law) a way of dealing with offenders without imprisoning them; a defendant found guilty of a crime is released by the court without imprisonment subject to conditions imposed by the court;
probation is part of the sentencing process
From wordnet.princeton.edu