prog·​no·​sis präg-ˈnō-səs How to pronounce prognosis (audio)
plural prognoses präg-ˈnō-ˌsēz How to pronounce prognosis (audio)
: the prospect of recovery as anticipated from the usual course of disease or peculiarities of the case

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Prognosis Is Not Just a Medical Term

With its prefix pro-, meaning "before", prognosis means basically "knowledge beforehand" of how a situation is likely to turn out. Prognosis was originally a strictly medical term, but it soon broadened to include predictions made by experts of all kinds. Thus, for example, economists are constantly offering prognoses (notice the irregular plural form) about where the economy is going, and climate scientists regularly prognosticate about how quickly the earth's atmosphere is warming.

Example Sentences

Right now, doctors say his prognosis is good. The president had a hopeful prognosis about the company's future.
Recent Examples on the Web Get the full report on Jobe’s prognosis from Our Man Petzold here. Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press, 21 Mar. 2023 In 2008, the doctor’s prognosis came true and as predicted, Wassmer was registered as blind in her forties. Orianna Rosa Royle, Fortune, 2 Mar. 2023 Damar Hamlin ‘will play professional football again,’ NFL players union doctor says The Buffalo Bills safety, who suffered a mid-game cardiac arrest last month, has received an optimistic prognosis on his playing future. Alexandra Meeks, CNN, 9 Feb. 2023 Two physicians must verify the patient’s prognosis. Alison Cross, Hartford Courant, 18 Jan. 2023 Despite his diagnosis and alarming prognosis, Hawking continued his studies at Cambridge University, and went on to change the subject of cosmology. Grace Gavilanes, Peoplemag, 8 Jan. 2023 Kelly is also highly skeptical of treating a physician’s six-month prognosis as an exact science. Robert Weisman,, 11 Dec. 2022 The prognosis had been grim, but after four months of treatment, the former president defied tough odds to emerge cancer-free. Mary Jordan, Washington Post, 21 Feb. 2023 Once prostate cancer has spread far from the original tumor, the prognosis is grim. Linda Carroll, NBC News, 12 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prognosis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Late Latin, from Greek prognōsis, literally, foreknowledge, from progignōskein to know before, from pro- + gignōskein to know — more at know

First Known Use

1655, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of prognosis was in 1655

Dictionary Entries Near prognosis

Cite this Entry

“Prognosis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


prog·​no·​sis präg-ˈnō-səs How to pronounce prognosis (audio)
plural prognoses -ˈnō-ˌsēz How to pronounce prognosis (audio)
: the prospect of recovery of an individual who has a disease based on the usual course of the disease and the characteristics of the individual who is sick

Medical Definition


prog·​no·​sis präg-ˈnō-səs How to pronounce prognosis (audio)
plural prognoses -ˌsēz How to pronounce prognosis (audio)
: the act or art of foretelling the course of a disease
: the prospect of survival and recovery from a disease as anticipated from the usual course of that disease or indicated by special features of the case
the prognosis is poor because of the accompanying cardiovascular diseaseP. A. Mead et al.

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