pre·​sen·​ti·​ment pri-ˈzen-tə-mənt How to pronounce presentiment (audio)
: a feeling that something will or is about to happen : premonition
presentimental adjective

Did you know?

Do you ever have presentiments, Mr. Flintwich?' 'I am not sure that I know what you mean by the term, sir,' replied that gentleman. 'Say, in this case, Mr. Flintwich, undefined anticipations of pleasure to come.' 'I can't say I'm sensible of such a sensation at present,' returned Mr. Flintwich, with the utmost gravity. Nothing sensational said here, perhaps, but Mr. Flintwich shows a sensitivity to words that, like "presentiment," are related to the Latin verb sentire, ("to feel"). He uses two of these words, and we've added three more. The quote is from Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit, and the words are "sensible," "sensation," "sensational," "sensitivity," and "sense."

Examples of presentiment in a Sentence

a nagging presentiment of danger
Recent Examples on the Web His presentiments had been right, but all those garlic pills and pulse recordings had done nothing to save him. Gillian Silverman, The New Yorker, 15 July 2023 The lavishness turns quickly into horror — Godwin gives us buckets of blood unasked for in the original — and then into a presentiment of Lear on the heath. Jesse Green, New York Times, 19 Jan. 2020 Seen from behind, men and women bundled up in heavy coats are saturated with a mute presentiment, that of people beginning to endure. Han Kang, Harper's magazine, 10 Feb. 2019 Those years, of course, marked respectively the peak of the frenzied optimism of the last business cycle and the first chilling presentiments of what was to come. Gerard Baker, WSJ, 25 Jan. 2019 During the 1919 scenes she is occasionally stopped in her tracks by presentiments of what’s in store around the corner. Jesse Green, New York Times, 10 Oct. 2017

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

Word History


French pressentiment, from Middle French, from pressentir to have a presentiment, from Latin praesentire to feel beforehand, from prae- + sentire to feel — more at sense

First Known Use

1714, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of presentiment was in 1714


Dictionary Entries Near presentiment

Cite this Entry

“Presentiment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


pre·​sen·​ti·​ment pri-ˈzent-ə-mənt How to pronounce presentiment (audio)
: a feeling that something will or is about to happen

More from Merriam-Webster on presentiment

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!