Word: prognosticate

Pronunciation: prahɡ-NAH-stə-kayt

Part of Speech: verb

Definition: foretell or prophesy an event in the future

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Today’s vocabulary entry is about another word I happened to pick up from Oxford Dictionaries‘ Word of the Day list. Though I’ve long been familiar with “prognostic” and “prognosis”, it was interesting to stumble upon a verb form of these words. Funny how hard it is for me to “prognosticate” what strange new words will make it into my Word of the Week segment!

To “prognosticate” a future event is to prophesy or foretell it. The word arose in late Middle English and comes from the Latin verb prognosticare, meaning “to make a prediction”. This word traces back through the adjective prognosticus to the Greek adjective prognōstikós “foreknowing”, which in turn comprises the prefix pro- “before” and the adjective gnōstikós “knowing”.

As mentioned above, the verb “prognosticate” is related to the adjective “prognostic” (meaning “serving to predict the likely outcome of a disease or ailment”) and the noun “prognosis” (meaning “the likely course of a disease or ailment”). Note that despite their primary use as medical terms, both these words can function as nouns indicating the prediction of future events, though this sense for “prognostic” has become archaic in modern use. If your characters often make predictions about the future, “prognosticate” may be a good word to add to your vocabulary!

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

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