en·​vis·​age in-ˈvi-zij How to pronounce envisage (audio)
envisaged; envisaging

transitive verb

: to view or regard in a certain way
envisages the slum as a hotbed of crime
: to have a mental picture of especially in advance of realization
envisages an entirely new system of education

Did you know?

Envisage this: a word is borrowed from French in the mid-17th century and sticks around to be used in the 21st. It’s not hard to picture; envisage is not alone in this accomplishment. Used today to mean “to have a mental picture of something, especially in advance of realization” and “to view or regard something in a certain way,” envisage for a time could also mean “to confront or face someone.” That use, which is now archaic, nods to the word’s origin: we borrowed envisage from French, but the visage part is from Anglo-French vis, meaning “face.” (It reaches back ultimately to Greek idein, “to see.”) Visage is of course also an English word. It entered English much earlier, in the 14th century, and is typically used today in literary contexts to refer to a person’s face. Envisage isn’t necessarily restricted to literary contexts, but it does have a formal tone. Its near twin envision (“to picture to oneself”), which has been with us since the 19th century, is interchangeable with envisage in many contexts and is somewhat less formal.

Choose the Right Synonym for envisage

think, conceive, imagine, fancy, realize, envisage, envision mean to form an idea of.

think implies the entrance of an idea into one's mind with or without deliberate consideration or reflection.

I just thought of a good joke

conceive suggests the forming and bringing forth and usually developing of an idea, plan, or design.

conceived of a new marketing approach

imagine stresses a visualization.

imagine you're at the beach

fancy suggests an imagining often unrestrained by reality but spurred by desires.

fancied himself a super athlete

realize stresses a grasping of the significance of what is conceived or imagined.

realized the enormity of the task ahead

envisage and envision imply a conceiving or imagining that is especially clear or detailed.

envisaged a totally computerized operation
envisioned a cure for the disease

Examples of envisage in a Sentence

I envisage a day when proper health care will be available to everyone. I'm trying to envisage you on a surfboard.
Recent Examples on the Web The program also envisaged the expulsion of undocumented immigrants. Roger Cohen, New York Times, 5 May 2024 Rather than traditional galleries, Leong Leong envisaged a single snaking hallway widening into a series of round, domed rooms, like pearls strung on a necklace—a series of immersive spaces. Nathan Heller, Vogue, 17 Apr. 2024 The mediators’ current proposal envisages releasing the hostages in three phases over 30 days, officials said. Anna Schecter, NBC News, 22 Jan. 2024 Britton envisages a nuanced, empathetic show that steers clear of sensationalist TV clichés, but that has proved easier said than done. Ellie Austin, Fortune, 9 Mar. 2024 Only Russia's main miner, Nornickel, envisages a drop in output. Gaurav Sharma, Forbes, 10 Feb. 2024 The worlds envisaged by LucasArts in 1995 still seem bleak, drab, grey, and lacking decent architects. Matt Gardner, Forbes, 29 Feb. 2024 The strategy can be seen in Beijing’s plans to integrate Hong Kong and its southern Chinese neighbors into a giant Greater Bay Area, which Beijing envisages as an economic hub to one day rival San Francisco, New York or Tokyo. Chris Lau, CNN, 24 Feb. 2024 Zohar, the Israeli culture minister, said even the more limited framework hammered out recently out by U.S. and Arab partners in Paris, envisaging an initial six-week pause in fighting, would meet strong resistance among Likud members. Shira Rubin, Washington Post, 8 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'envisage.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French envisager, from en- + visage face

First Known Use

1660, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of envisage was in 1660


Dictionary Entries Near envisage

Cite this Entry

“Envisage.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/envisage. Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


en·​vis·​age in-ˈviz-ij How to pronounce envisage (audio)
envisaged; envisaging
: to have a mental picture of : visualize

More from Merriam-Webster on envisage

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