prodigious

adjective

pro·​di·​gious prə-ˈdi-jəs How to pronounce prodigious (audio)
1
: causing amazement or wonder
2
: extraordinary in bulk, quantity, or degree : enormous
3
a
: resembling or befitting a prodigy : strange, unusual
b
obsolete : being an omen : portentous
prodigiously adverb
prodigiousness noun

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Prodigious, monstrous, tremendous, and stupendous all mean extremely impressive. Prodigious suggests marvelousness exceeding belief, usually in something that is felt as going far beyond a previous maximum of goodness, greatness, intensity, or size ("acrobats performing prodigious aerial feats"). Monstrous implies a departure from the normal in size, form, or character ("a monstrous billboard"); it can also suggest that someone or something is ugly, cruel, or vicious ("a monstrous criminal"; "a monstrous crime"). Tremendous and stupendous both imply a power, the former to terrify or awe ("the singer has tremendous talent"), the latter to stun or astound ("the young cast gave a stupendous performance"). Prodigious and the related noun prodigy derive from the Latin prodigium, meaning "omen" or "monster"; at one time, both words were used in English to refer to portents, or omens, but these senses are now considered obsolete.

Choose the Right Synonym for prodigious

monstrous, prodigious, tremendous, stupendous mean extremely impressive.

monstrous implies a departure from the normal (as in size, form, or character) and often carries suggestions of deformity, ugliness, or fabulousness.

the monstrous waste of the project

prodigious suggests a marvelousness exceeding belief, usually in something felt as going far beyond a previous maximum (as of goodness, greatness, intensity, or size).

made a prodigious effort and rolled the stone aside

tremendous may imply a power to terrify or inspire awe.

the tremendous roar of the cataract

stupendous implies a power to stun or astound, usually because of size, numbers, complexity, or greatness beyond description.

a stupendous volcanic eruption

Examples of prodigious in a Sentence

Graceful afield and afoot in his youth, he bulked into a prodigious slugger in his final years. Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated, 28 July 2003
She had what was known in those days as a hollow leg, meaning she was able to drink prodigious amounts of liquor without getting drunk, or so she thought. Vanity Fair, July 2000
… Isaac [Newton] was allowed to resume at Grantham and go on to Cambridge, where … he was to remain for nearly thirty-five secluded, prodigious years. John Updike, New Yorker, 30 Mar. 1998
stage magicians performing prodigious feats for rapt audiences a prodigious supply of canned food kept in the basement for emergencies
Recent Examples on the Web Rats are prodigious breeders, with one pair having the potential to produce 15,000 descendants in a year. Emma G. Fitzsimmons, New York Times, 10 Apr. 2024 But in their early years these prodigious neophytes tended to devote themselves single-mindedly to their ensembles. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 2 Apr. 2024 The grid network is also adding renewable energy capacity at a prodigious rate. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, 27 Feb. 2024 In Search of the Truth: The Israel-Hamas conflict has produced a prodigious amount of disinformation, putting people who fact-check claims — especially those who live in the Middle East — back on their heels. Roger Cohen, New York Times, 31 Jan. 2024 Her father, John Oscar Grade, was a popular family-practice doctor who hunted, fished and grew prodigious gardens. Kim Severson, New York Times, 17 Mar. 2024 Her prodigious work ethic has yielded a superb artist on the rise. Heide Janssen, Orange County Register, 17 Mar. 2024 Titanosaurs’ rapid growth rates were also powered by their prodigious appetites for plants. Kristi Curry Rogers, The Conversation, 7 Mar. 2024 But as impressive as his prodigious skills may be, more so is the range of expression and emotion in the playing. Steve Hochman, SPIN, 8 Mar. 2024

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

Word History

Etymology

see prodigy

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3b

Time Traveler
The first known use of prodigious was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near prodigious

Cite this Entry

“Prodigious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prodigious. Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

prodigious

adjective
pro·​di·​gious prə-ˈdij-əs How to pronounce prodigious (audio)
1
: exciting amazement or wonder
performs prodigious feats
2
: very big : huge
a prodigious amount of food
prodigiously adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on prodigious

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