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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
Ghostly images of a hippo skeleton as Pepe contemplates the loss of his father presage his own death. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Feb. 2024 One phenomenon that often flies under the radar is that takeovers of this sort tend to presage a slowdown in oil-production growth. Kevin Crowley, Fortune, 19 Feb. 2024 Best Picture Anatomy of a Fall Seven BAFTA noms (including best film, director and actress) presaged five Oscar noms (including those same three), a formidable showing for the film. Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 30 Jan. 2024 But the slowdown for the tippy-top could presage a bigger slowdown in consumer spending, Bank of America notes. Irina Ivanova, Fortune, 15 Aug. 2023 But the pre-Thanksgiving gathering at Norton’s house presaged broader efforts to thwart the will of Michigan voters, as well as the entanglement of Hillsdale’s administration in the events leading up to Jan. 6. Danny Hakim, New York Times, 8 Jan. 2024 Nobody was hurt, but some people were helped There is zero overlap between the memberships of the Golden Globes and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is important to remember when speculating about the degree to which the Globes will presage the Oscars. Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Jan. 2024 In 2015, Republican Matt Bevin shocked the political world and all of the polling, presaging Trump’s impact the next year. Mark Murray, NBC News, 7 Nov. 2023 Its early investments in large-scale solar power, green hydrogen and other clean energy technologies presaged similar moves by power companies across the country. Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times, 21 Dec. 2023 See More

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 5 Mar. 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

More from Merriam-Webster on presage

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