Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective pru·dent \ˈprü-dənt\

Simple Definition of prudent

  • : having or showing careful good judgment

Full Definition of prudent

  1. :  characterized by, arising from, or showing prudence: as a :  marked by wisdom or judiciousness <prudent advice> b :  shrewd in the management of practical affairs <prudent investors> c :  marked by circumspection :  discreet d :  provident, frugal

pru·dent·ly adverb

Examples of prudent

  1. An endless war is not always the most moral or the most prudent course of action. —Richard A. Posner, New Republic, 2 Sept. 2002

  2. We missed the Mass for St. Rose of Lima, who, though prudent, had failed to be martyred and was therefore only second-string. —Darryl Pinckney, High Cotton, 1992

  3. Prudent burners take several precautions. Burning one of two bordering fields, they wet the edge of one or the other, usually the one being burned, to prevent the flames from jumping. —Alec Wilkinson, Big Sugar, 1989

  4. Since the inexplicable power of a magnetized needle to “find” the north smacked of black magic … . For many decades the prudent sea captain consulted his compass secretly. —Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoverers, 1983

  5. He always listened to her prudent advice.

  6. You made a prudent choice.

Origin of prudent

Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin prudent-, prudens, contraction of provident-, providens — more at provident

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of prudent

wise, sage, sapient, judicious, prudent, sensible, sane mean having or showing sound judgment. wise suggests great understanding of people and of situations and unusual discernment and judgment in dealing with them <wise beyond his tender years>. sage suggests wide experience, great learning, and wisdom <the sage advice of my father>. sapient suggests great sagacity and discernment <the sapient musings of an old philosopher>. judicious stresses a capacity for reaching wise decisions or just conclusions <judicious parents using kindness and discipline in equal measure>. prudent suggests exercise of the restraint of sound practical wisdom and discretion <a prudent decision to wait out the storm>. sensible applies to action guided and restrained by good sense and rationality <a sensible woman who was not fooled by flattery>. sane stresses mental soundness, rationality, and levelheadedness <remained sane even in times of crises>.

Rhymes with prudent

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up prudent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


How much does a batman (the Turkish unit of measurement) weigh?

2.2 pounds 196.5 pounds 16.96 pounds 100 pounds
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.