fore·​tell | \ fȯr-ˈtel How to pronounce foretell (audio) \
foretold\ fȯr-​ˈtōld How to pronounce foretell (audio) \; foretelling

Definition of foretell

transitive verb

: to tell beforehand : predict

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Other Words from foretell

foreteller noun

Choose the Right Synonym for foretell

foretell, predict, forecast, prophesy, prognosticate mean to tell beforehand. foretell applies to the telling of the coming of a future event by any procedure or any source of information. seers foretold the calamity predict commonly implies inference from facts or accepted laws of nature. astronomers predicted an eclipse forecast adds the implication of anticipating eventualities and differs from predict in being usually concerned with probabilities rather than certainties. forecast snow prophesy connotes inspired or mystic knowledge of the future especially as the fulfilling of divine threats or promises. prophesying a new messiah prognosticate is used less often than the other words; it may suggest learned or skilled interpretation, but more often it is simply a colorful substitute for predict or prophesy. prognosticating the future

Examples of foretell in a Sentence

We cannot foretell the future. a 16th-century astrologer who, some claim, accurately foretold 20th-century events
Recent Examples on the Web The good nights for Dean Kremer, Bruce Zimmermann and eventually Keegan Akin will foretell a rebuild on track. Jon Meoli,, "In Orioles’ 7-0 loss to Yankees, another rough day for a touted rookie starter," 28 Apr. 2021 The Oscars, which usually announces its top prize – Best Picture – last, even appeared to foretell a Boseman win by making the best actor award the finale. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "He deserved more: Why Chadwick Boseman's posthumous Oscar loss stings so much," 26 Apr. 2021 But Saltenberger, a meteorologist of nearly 40 years, said unseasonably high temperatures and occasional fires don’t necessarily foretell a particularly bad wildfire season. oregonlive, "Do unseasonably warm temperatures, spring wildfires foretell devastating Oregon fire season?," 22 Apr. 2021 Unlike Microsoft, Sony has been hesitant to port its console stars over to the PC (though Horizon Zero Dawn’s PC success may foretell a strategy shift). Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "Why PlayStation Now's new 1080p streaming is great for PC gamers," 22 Apr. 2021 Vassell’s willingness to listen and learn is one of the many characteristics that foretell a bright future for the Florida State product, who the Spurs selected 11th overall last November. Tom Orsborn, San Antonio Express-News, "Spurs like rookie Devin Vassell's willingness to listen, learn," 29 Mar. 2021 His choice of Kurt Campbell to serve as a high-level coordinator of Asia policy, for example, could foretell a tough line with China coupled with an energetic effort to reassure US allies Japan and South Korea. Mark Landler,, "Will Biden be an activist president on the world stage?," 20 Jan. 2021 As 2020 comes to a close, the pandemic has not abated, but mass vaccination campaigns now underway spell the early beginnings of an end now possible to foretell — more imminent for some countries than for others. Washington Post, "2020: The year of the virus," 31 Dec. 2020 In these spooky days of social distancing, Halloween may foretell what kind of appetite people have to celebrate and spend. Maria Halkias, Dallas News, "Pandemic hasn’t scared off Halloween shoppers," 23 Oct. 2020

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

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First Known Use of foretell

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for foretell

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The first known use of foretell was in the 14th century

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Statistics for foretell

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Foretell.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for foretell



English Language Learners Definition of foretell

formal + literary : to describe (something) before it happens


fore·​tell | \ fōr-ˈtel How to pronounce foretell (audio) \
foretold\ -​ˈtōld \; foretelling

Kids Definition of foretell

: to tell of a thing before it happens

Choose the Right Synonym for foretell

foretell, predict, and forecast mean to tell about or announce something before it happens. foretell is used when the future is revealed especially by extraordinary powers. The wizards foretold a great war. predict is used for a fairly exact statement that is the result of the gathering of information and the use of scientific methods. Scientists can sometimes predict earthquakes. forecast is often used when a person has weighed evidence and is telling what is most likely to happen. Experts are forecasting snow.

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