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

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 Which is a long or short way of telling critics and fans to stop cheering or critiquing a future that none of us can realistically foretell. John Tamny, Forbes, 25 Apr. 2022 Preseasons don’t always foretell the regular season, but the Lakers went winless in theirs. New York Times, 8 Apr. 2022 After Republican Glenn Youngkin won the governorship, commentators dissected the results to foretell the outcome of elections in 2022, 2024 and beyond. Nicole Hemmer, CNN, 17 Feb. 2022 Prokofiev meant for this symphony to capture the mood of a horrendous war not having sapped the spirit of his people at the moment Russia could foretell victory. Los Angeles Times, 9 Jan. 2022 Moiraine, for example, meets up with Min (Kae Alexander), an undercover bartender with the ability to see visions that foretell the future. Randall Colburn,, 17 Dec. 2021 But whether Sigal’s lab experiments foretell reduced vaccine protection in real life is still uncertain, says Sarah Cobey, an epidemiologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago. Charles Schmidt, Scientific American, 17 Dec. 2021 This demographic fact, however, does not foretell the shape of our politics. James Chappel, The New Republic, 15 Nov. 2021 Traditionally, this would foretell a strong Republican performance in next year's midterms. Harry Enten, CNN, 1 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of foretell

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

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Cite this Entry

“Foretell.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for foretell


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on foretell

Nglish: Translation of foretell for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of foretell for Arabic Speakers


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