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

Other Words from precocious

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

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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 the mid-1600s, 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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The couple shares a precocious child, Trixie (Grace Jenkins). New York Times, 30 Mar. 2022 Gainsbourg was indeed a precocious child, having starred in three films (the second, L’Effrontée (1985) earning her a César award) and released a debut album Charlotte for Ever with her father Serge Gainsbourg by the age of fifteen. Erik Morse, Vogue, 17 Mar. 2022 From Helene Elliott: Stefanos Tsitispas didn’t seem all that impressed by Jenson Brooksby after the precocious 21-year-old from Sacramento had upset him in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open. Los Angeles Times, 16 Mar. 2022 Maybe there was only room for one black-and-white movie with a precocious kid in the race. Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, 21 Mar. 2022 Not surprising that Miseducation was the one to do it, as another work of precocious genius by a do-nearly-everything solo artist with a singular vision, one rooted in rap, but soul even more so, in the genre’s truest sense. Andrew Unterberger, Billboard, 5 Apr. 2022 Taya was a bright, precocious student who had started struggling with mental health issues at about 11, according to her father, Harry Bruell. Jocelyn Gecker, Chron, 4 Apr. 2022 Taya was a bright, precocious student who had started struggling with mental health issues at about 11, according to her father, Harry Bruell. Jocelyn Gecker, ajc, 4 Apr. 2022 Finally, in Naples there was Amadeo Bordiga, the most implacable and stubborn of Gramsci’s future associates, a star mathematics student and precocious labor organizer, who came from an already political family. Thomas Meaney, The New Republic, 30 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of precocious was in 1650

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Dictionary Entries Near precocious

precocial

precocious

precocity theory

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Last Updated

3 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Precocious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/precocious. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for precocious

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

More from Merriam-Webster on precocious

Nglish: Translation of precocious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of precocious for Arabic Speakers

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