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pres·​age ˈpre-sij How to pronounce presage (audio)
pri-ˈsāj How to pronounce presage (audio)
: something that foreshadows or portends a future event : omen
: an intuition or feeling of what is going to happen in the future
archaic : prognostication
: warning or indication of the future
presageful adjective


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pre·​sage ˈpre-sij How to pronounce presage (audio) pri-ˈsāj How to pronounce presage (audio)
presaged; presaging

transitive verb

: to give an omen or warning of : foreshadow

intransitive verb

: to make or utter a prediction
presager noun obsolete

Did you know?

The verb presage was predated by a noun presage, meaning "omen." Both forms derive from the Latin prefix prae- combined with the adjective sagus, meaning "prophetic." Foretell, predict, forecast, prophesy, and presage all mean "to tell beforehand." Foretell applies to telling 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 implies anticipating eventualities and is usually concerned with probabilities ("the meteorologist forecasts snow"). Prophesy connotes inspired or mystic knowledge of the future ("the soothsayer prophesied a new messiah"). Presage may apply to suggesting a coming event or indicating its likelihood.

Examples of presage in a Sentence

Noun I had a nagging presage that the results of my medical tests would not be good. the sight of the first robin is always a welcome presage of spring Verb Many investors are worried that the current slowdown could presage another recession. events that presaged the civil rights movement
Recent Examples on the Web
The ominous warning presages the societal problems that ensue when consanguinity is widespread. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 19 Nov. 2019 Lowery is sharp in his attunement to the anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim violence of the Bush years, which now look like a presage of Trumpism. Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker, 29 Aug. 2023 The surge in mixed families presages a more fluid picture than the vision of a minority-white country divided by rigid racial categories with competing cultures and interests. Richard Alba, Foreign Affairs, 13 Oct. 2020 But does the current bout of brightening presage Betelgeuse blowing its top? Meghan Bartels, Scientific American, 15 May 2023 If anything, his campaign — a presage to Mr. Trump’s candidacy — served as a neon-sign warning to Democrats that bad behavior wasn’t a bar to entry in Republican politics anymore. Maggie Haberman, New York Times, 16 Mar. 2023 If not corrected, these near-death airline experiences and the near collapse of the U.S. commercial aviation system presage catastrophes to come. Victor Davis Hanson, Arkansas Online, 6 Mar. 2023 Does President Orlean’s violent death presage that life on the new planet is doomed? Kate Aurthur, Variety, 28 Dec. 2021 Later on, jagged orchestral accents punctuate clattering and pounding percussion parts, and big brassy climaxes presage ghostly slides in the violins. Tim Diovanni, Dallas News, 18 Sep. 2021
Kim Godwin is out after three tumultuous years as ABC News president, a move presaged earlier this year when network parent Walt Disney Co. installed one of its executives, Debra O’Connell, to oversee the news division. David Bauder, Fortune, 6 May 2024 His letter presaged the Langlands program, a major initiative in contemporary mathematical research. Kevin Hartnett, Quanta Magazine, 6 May 2024 But these are, er, Extreme measures for Fisker that could presage the end of the company. David Meyer, Fortune, 27 Mar. 2024 The dual victories against figures viewed as villains by her fellow Democrats has, in some quarters, made Ms. James a hero, complete with the kind of résumé-burnishing accomplishments that can presage an ascent to the governor’s mansion or national office. Jesse McKinley, New York Times, 10 Mar. 2024 But the memory of June 17, and the events that would unfold over the next few years, presaged the next three decades of American life while altering the national psyche forever. Sean Gregory, TIME, 11 Apr. 2024 More broadly, the CHIPS Act may presage a new era for a range of companies, pushing them into an unfamiliar, geopolitical role. Geoff Colvin, Fortune, 8 Apr. 2024 Coloring the underside of her hair blue to mark summer vacations from her teaching job, Blasey Ford even unwittingly presaged mermaidcore. Alexandra Jacobs, New York Times, 15 Mar. 2024 Vehicles will continue to co-star in the films, and to presage and adapt to the latest transportation technologies. Brett Berk, The Hollywood Reporter, 1 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'presage.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English, from Latin praesagium, from praesagus having a foreboding, from prae- + sagus prophetic — more at seek

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1562, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of presage was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near presage

Cite this Entry

“Presage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
pres·​age ˈpres-ij How to pronounce presage (audio)
: omen
: a warning or suggestion of future events


2 of 2 verb
pre·​sage ˈpres-ij How to pronounce presage (audio) pri-ˈsāj How to pronounce presage (audio)
presaged; presaging
: to give a sign or warning of : portend

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