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 has been part of the English language since the 17th century. It was sometimes used with the sense of "to meet squarely" or "to confront" (visage means "face" so the word suggests face-to-face encounters); however, that sense is now archaic and the word is primarily used in senses that involve having a particular conception or mental picture of something (visage also means "appearance" or "aspect"). In the early 20th century, some usage commentators began deriding envisage for reasons not entirely clear, declaring it "undesirable." Today, time and usage have won out, and envisage is widely used and accepted, though it is slightly formal in 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 slightly 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

Example Sentences

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 To envisage, too, a future that will thrillingly marry the old and new. Claire Messud, Travel + Leisure, 23 Apr. 2022 Leaders across all industries were faced with a new reality, requiring them to determine how, in an already competitive market for talent, companies would envisage their future path while retaining their existing workforce. Andrew Dawson, Forbes, 22 Apr. 2022 Until this time, they are surrounded by sky And can, as yet, envisage no way out. Colm Tóibín, The New Yorker, 21 Mar. 2022 The idea that California might one day ballot-initiative its way out of its ballot-initiative fetish is a fascinating one, but hard to envisage. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, 19 Sep. 2021 In between those two extremes, many organizations envisage hybrid modes of working where face-to-face and digital working can blend seamlessly. Imperial Business Insights, Forbes, 2 Sep. 2021 But a new wave of mycoprotein companies envisage a future far beyond turkey dinosaurs. Matt Reynolds, Wired, 8 Aug. 2021 All told, the IMF offers numerous recommendations that envisage a world in which taxing authorities incrementally push the needle toward larger reforms. Nana Ama Sarfo, Forbes, 10 June 2021 The resolution should also envisage a broader mediation framework that starts with the acknowledgment that this has never been a war just between two sides. Jamal Benomar, CNN, 5 May 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'envisage.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 6 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



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

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