pres·​age | \ ˈpre-sij How to pronounce presage (audio) also pri-ˈsāj How to pronounce presage (audio) \

Definition of presage

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that foreshadows or portends a future event : omen
2 : an intuition or feeling of what is going to happen in the future
3 archaic : prognostication
4 : warning or indication of the future


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

Definition of presage (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to give an omen or warning of : foreshadow

intransitive verb

: to make or utter a prediction

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Other Words from presage


presageful \ pri-​ˈsāj-​fəl How to pronounce presageful (audio) \ adjective


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 ("to forecast snow"). Prophesy connotes inspired or mystic knowledge of the future ("prophesying a new messiah"). Presage may apply to suggesting a coming event or indicating its likelihood.

Examples of presage in a Sentence


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


Many investors are worried that the current slowdown could presage another recession. events that presaged the civil rights movement
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Signs warning drivers to signal their presence with a honk presage two bends in the narrow pass, which is wide enough for about one and a half cars. Ben Brazil,, "The monastery amid O.C.'s mania," 16 Feb. 2018 The neighborhood went dark at 9:02 p.m. Saturday because of a downed power line – an ominous presage, Chris Haire, Orange County Register, "Neighbor describes what happened when police officer shot, killed Newport Beach man," 16 Apr. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In the Optimist production, this number is sung twice; its first appearance comes at the top of the show and is rendered by Hero, who unwittingly presages the way she herself will later be undone by Claudio. Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Optimist Theatre's free 'Much Ado About Nothing' leans hard on gags," 8 July 2017 The event presaged the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, a larger citywide revolt and the subject of the monument near which Trump gave his speech Thursday. Adam Taylor, Washington Post, "Trump was first U.S. president to visit Warsaw without visiting the Warsaw Ghetto since 1989," 6 July 2017 May 10, 2016 In March, after a terrorist attack in Westminster, Donald Trump Jr. presaged his father’s tweets on Sunday, taking a comment that Khan made out of context to criticize him. David A. Graham, The Atlantic, "The Panic President," 4 June 2017 And nothing in her life presaged the troubles that would befall her years later. Joseph Gerth, The Courier-Journal, "An old lady, a conspiracy and the FBI | Joseph Gerth," 23 June 2017 As if presaging the coming showdown over Trump’s travel ban, which the Supreme Court could agree to hear any moment, Breyer issued a parting shot that seems aimed at keeping his colleagues on alert about what’s to come. Cristian Farias, Daily Intelligencer, "How a Shorthanded Supreme Court Gutted a Historic Civil Rights Remedy," 21 June 2017 Jon Ossoff’s defeat would not tell us what will happen 17 months from now in the 2018 midterms any more than Republican Tim Burns’ defeat in a 2010 Pennsylvania special election presaged that year’s midterm outcome nationally. Chuck Todd, NBC News, "The Stakes in Georgia’s Election Couldn’t Be Higher," 19 June 2017 The European Union’s case against Google presages what a more aggressive regulatory regime could look like here at home.,, "Google Just Got Some Record-Breaking Bad News," 27 June 2017 Barry Diller, the former chairman of Paramount Pictures and latter-day Internet eminence, in conversation with V.F. editor Graydon Carter, presaged the demise of the film business. Jon Kelly, The Hive, "In Portrait: Annie Leibovitz Captures Vanity Fair’s 2016 New Establishment Summit," 19 June 2017

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1562, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for presage


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

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Time Traveler for presage

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

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English Language Learners Definition of presage

formal : to give or be a sign of (something that will happen or develop in the future)

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More from Merriam-Webster on presage

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with presage

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for presage

Spanish Central: Translation of presage

Nglish: Translation of presage for Spanish Speakers

Comments on presage

What made you want to look up presage? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


readily or continually undergoing change

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