precocious

adjective
pre·​co·​cious | \ pri-ˈkō-shəs How to pronounce precocious (audio) \

Definition of precocious

1 : exceptionally early in development or occurrence precocious puberty
2 : exhibiting mature qualities at an unusually early age a precocious child

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Other Words from precocious

precociously adverb
precociousness noun
precocity \ pri-​ˈkä-​sə-​tē How to pronounce precocity (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for precocious

Synonyms

early, inopportune, premature, unseasonable, untimely

Antonyms

late

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Did You Know?

Precocious got started in Latin when the prefix prae-, meaning "ahead of," was combined with the verb coquere, meaning "to cook" or "to ripen," to form the adjective "praecox," which means "early ripening" or "premature." By 1650, English speakers had turned "praecox" into "precocious" and were using it especially of plants that produced blossoms before their leaves came out. By the 1670s, "precocious" was also being used to describe humans who developed skills or talents before others typically did.

Examples of precocious in a Sentence

But what has paleontologists agog is this googol-granddaddy's precocious attributes: most notably the relative flatness of its face, which is more modern-looking than skulls half its age. — Fred Guterl, Newsweek, 22 July 2002 As a boy, I had caught eight-inch-long, juvenile "snapper" blues in Barnegat Bay and marveled at the uncommon strength and speed and the precocious attack instinct within their slender, silver bodies. — Pete Bodo, New York Times, 8 July 2001 … Columbus was still sailing the ocean blue and American English, frisky and rambunctious as a precocious child, was as yet unborn. — Sarah Lyall, New York Times, 10 Apr. 2000 … no longer certain that my blackness gave me precocious wisdom, or that I could outslick these folks … — Lorene Cary, Black Ice, 1991 She was a precocious child who could read before she went to school. A precocious musician, he was giving concerts when he was seven.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In their sentencing memo, Dance’s lawyers describe him as a precocious elementary, middle and high school student who was raised by his mother and grandmother. Liz Bowie, baltimoresun.com, "Former Baltimore County schools Superintendent Dallas Dance asks for probation instead of jail time," 18 Apr. 2018 More than anything, the old man recognized in the precocious 5-year-old some nascent curiosity about our country and the people who govern it. John Kelly, Washington Post, "Since childhood, Gordon Thomas has been looking for dead presidents," 18 Feb. 2018 Celeste is one of the lucky ones—struck in the neck by a bullet, rescued from the brink—and an original song performed at the memorial turns her into a precocious national treasure. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "Natalie Portman's Pop Star Turn in Vox Lux Bristles with Apocalyptic Foreboding...and Glitter," 13 Dec. 2018 James Ivory wrote the screenplay based on Aciman's novel about a romantic encounter between a professor's precocious teenage son and the gifted graduate student who spends part of the summer at the professor's country villa. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "Why 'Three Billboards' and 'Call Me by Your Name' leave this theater critic cold," 1 Mar. 2018 That apparent oversight by the state’s founders more than 225 years ago was enough to encourage the politically precocious teen to collect the signatures needed to place him on the primary ballot. Lisa Rathke, The Seattle Times, "14-year-old boy uses legal quirk to run for Vermont governor," 13 Aug. 2018 This young man has had no prior contacts with the courts and has been considered an affable, precocious student with no discipline or antisocial tendencies. Robert Moran, Philly.com, "Police: Teen who threatened shooting at Delco high school had 1,600 rounds of ammo and a handgun," 2 Apr. 2018 Told through the eyes of Scout Finch, a precocious 8-year-old, the story follows her father, Atticus Finch, an attorney who is desperately trying to prove the innocence of a black man on trial who is unjustly accused of raping a white woman. Alexandra Gekas, Woman's Day, "12 Best Movies Based on Books," 2 Aug. 2010 Houston withstood a furious second-half surge led by Utah's precocious rookie Donovan Mitchell, who left the game with just over seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter after banging his left knee with Harden. Michael Singer, USA TODAY, "Rockets' Chris Paul reaches first-ever conference finals after scorching Jazz in Game 5," 8 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'precocious.' 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 precocious

1650, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for precocious

Latin praecoc-, praecox early ripening, precocious, from prae- + coquere to cook — more at cook

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Statistics for precocious

Last Updated

15 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for precocious

The first known use of precocious was in 1650

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More Definitions for precocious

precocious

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of precocious

of a child : having or showing the qualities or abilities of an adult at an unusually early age

precocious

adjective
pre·​co·​cious | \ pri-ˈkō-shəs How to pronounce precocious (audio) \

Kids Definition of precocious

: showing qualities or abilities of an adult at an unusually early age

Other Words from precocious

precociously adverb precociously talented

precocious

adjective
pre·​co·​cious | \ pri-ˈkō-shəs How to pronounce precocious (audio) \

Medical Definition of precocious

1 : exceptionally early in development or occurrence precocious puberty
2 : exhibiting mature qualities at an unusually early age

Other Words from precocious

precociously adverb
precociousness noun

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Comments on precocious

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