prod·​i·​gy | \ ˈprä-də-jē How to pronounce prodigy (audio) \
plural prodigies

Definition of prodigy

1a : a portentous event : omen
b : something extraordinary or inexplicable
2a : an extraordinary, marvelous, or unusual accomplishment, deed, or event
b : a highly talented child or youth

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Did You Know?

Is a prodigy a genius or a monster - or both? Nowadays, it's the talent that shines through, but back in the 15th century the word's meaning was more strongly influenced by that of its Latin ancestor, prodigium, meaning "omen" or "monster." Back then, a prodigy could be any strange or weird thing that might be an omen of things to come. Even in modern English, the word sometimes refers to an extraordinary deed or accomplishment. P.G. Wodehouse used that sense when he described how a character named Pongo Twistleton was "performing prodigies with the [billiard] cue."

Examples of prodigy in a Sentence

a new drug that is being hailed as the latest prodigy of the medical world
Recent Examples on the Web Where other legends might have rested on their laurels and legacy, DOOM spent as much of the 2010s on dream-team pairings with the likes of Flying Lotus and Ghostface Killah as on growing the profile of the young New York prodigy Bishop Nehru. Craig Jenkins, Vulture, "Hip-Hop Needs No Other Supervillain After MF DOOM," 5 Jan. 2021 The young actress offers one of her best performances in this fantastic series about a female chess prodigy in the 1960s who dominates the sport while privately battling addiction. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "The 15 best TV shows of 2020: From ‘Queen’s Gambit’ to ‘Schitt’s Creek’ to ‘The Great’," 29 Dec. 2020 Who could have predicted that one of the breakout hits of 2020 would be a period drama about a troubled young chess prodigy in the 1950s and 1960s? Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "TV Technica 2020: Our favorite shows and binges in a year of living distantly," 26 Dec. 2020 There's a reason why chess is having a moment: The Queen's Gambit, Netflix's stylish limited series about a chess prodigy, is the show on everyone's lips. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Anya Taylor-Joy to Reunite with Queen's Gambit Creator on Nabokov Adaptation," 12 Dec. 2020 Few could've likely guessed that a period piece about a young chess prodigy would be the one that would captivate audiences the most this year. Natalie Morin,, "Beth Harmon Would Want You To Watch These Movies After The Queen’s Gambit Finale," 3 Dec. 2020 Is this chipper prodigy — with the patchy goatee, a devotion to family game nights and an aversion to controversy — ready for today’s NBA? Washington Post, "Deni Avdija is ‘the greatest talent in Israeli basketball history.’ But is he ready for the NBA?," 30 Nov. 2020 Mama Africa’s next pick is a classic by a certified musical prodigy in Felix Mendelssohn. Kevin L. Clark, Essence, "Yemi Alade Presents Essence‘s Official Christmakwanzakah Playlist," 25 Dec. 2020 The seven-episode Netflix miniseries starring Anya Taylor-Joy as a female chess prodigy had finished first each of the previous three weeks. City News Service, Los Angeles Times, "Football helps CBS score another win as ‘The Crown’ rules streaming viewership," 22 Dec. 2020

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for prodigy

Middle English, from Latin prodigium omen, monster, from pro-, prod- + -igium (akin to aio I say) — more at adage

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The first known use of prodigy was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prodigy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for prodigy


How to pronounce prodigy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of prodigy

: a young person who is unusually talented in some way


prod·​i·​gy | \ ˈprä-də-jē How to pronounce prodigy (audio) \
plural prodigies

Kids Definition of prodigy

1 : an unusually talented child
2 : an amazing event or action : wonder

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