Word: prescient

Pronunciation: PRE-sh(ee)ənt

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: having or showing knowledge of events before they take place

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


So it’s been almost a week since the next American president was elected, and honestly, I was… shocked, to say the least. Though a part of me is glad this election is finally over because I’m tired of hearing about politics, I couldn’t resist picking up one more vocabulary word from the articles flooding my news feed over the past several weeks. The irony is that it doesn’t really fit the theme of this election season, as relatively few national polls correctly predicted the outcome. The people who saw this result coming from a long way off must be a “prescient” bunch indeed!

To be “prescient” is to show or have knowledge of events before they happen. The word arose in the early 17th century and comes from the Latin verb praescire, meaning “to know in advance”. This verb comprises the preposition prae “before” and the verb scire “to know”.

While the word “prescient” may appear to be related to “clairvoyant“, it seems to apply more to knowledge and educated guessing than to supernatural psychic abilities. Those who prove themselves “prescient” tend to have a greater understanding of facts and make correct predictions based on past events. Also noteworthy is the noun form of this adjective, “prescience”, meaning “the fact of knowing something before it takes place”. If the people in your stories are good at predicting the outcomes of events, you’re certainly writing some “prescient” characters!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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