proph·​e·​sy | \ ˈprä-fə-ˌsī How to pronounce prophesy (audio) \
prophesied; prophesying

Definition of prophesy

transitive verb

1 : to utter by or as if by divine inspiration
2 : to predict with assurance or on the basis of mystic knowledge
3 : prefigure

intransitive verb

1 : to speak as if divinely inspired
2 : to give instruction in religious matters : preach
3 : to make a prediction

Other Words from prophesy

prophesier \ ˈprä-​fə-​ˌsī(-​ə)r How to pronounce prophesy (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for prophesy

foretell, predict, forecast, prophesy, prognosticate mean to tell beforehand. foretell applies to the telling of the coming 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 adds the implication of anticipating eventualities and differs from predict in being usually concerned with probabilities rather than certainties. forecast snow prophesy connotes inspired or mystic knowledge of the future especially as the fulfilling of divine threats or promises. prophesying a new messiah prognosticate is used less often than the other words; it may suggest learned or skilled interpretation, but more often it is simply a colorful substitute for predict or prophesy. prognosticating the future

Examples of prophesy in a Sentence

The book claims that modern events were prophesied in ancient times. holy men were prophesying the coming of a new messiah
Recent Examples on the Web Paul suspects that Xan is named after Xanthus, an immortal horse in Greek mythology who was able to speak and prophesy—and actually prophesied the death of his owner, Achilles. Deborah Treisman, The New Yorker, 13 June 2022 One, by Donatello, seems to prophesy the other, by Michelangelo. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, 13 May 2022 Similar slight improvements are the most that even its advocates are able to prophesy for the dirigible. Victor Lougheed, Popular Mechanics, 13 Aug. 2020 In the years before the virus, critics began to prophesy that a handful of tech companies would soon grow more powerful than the government. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, 12 June 2020 Kierkegaard was the youngest of seven children; his father had prophesied that none of his children would survive past 33, Jesus’ age at crucifixion, and all but Kierkegaard and one brother were to die young. Parul Sehgal, New York Times, 28 Apr. 2020 In 2002 futurist Jeremy Rifkin’s book The Hydrogen Economy prophesied that the gas would catalyze a new industrial revolution. Peter Fairley, Scientific American, 1 Feb. 2020 The dominant push toward proper clothes was clearest at Louis Vuitton, which has become a catalyst for trends under its hype-maker/men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh, who recently prophesied streetwear’s decline. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, 24 Jan. 2020 Early in the Gospel of John, the soon-to-be apostle Philip searches out one Nathanael to share momentous news: The Christ prophesied in the Scriptures has been found, a man named Jesus from Nazareth. Stephen Mirarchi, National Review, 28 Dec. 2019 See More

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

First Known Use of prophesy

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for prophesy

Middle English prophecien, prophesien, borrowed from Middle French prophecier, verbal derivative of phophecie, prophesie prophecy

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The first known use of prophesy was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

25 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Prophesy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for prophesy


proph·​e·​sy | \ ˈprä-fə-ˌsī How to pronounce prophesy (audio) \
prophesied; prophesying

Kids Definition of prophesy

: foretell, predict … every time he prophesied fair weather it rained …— Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

More from Merriam-Webster on prophesy

Nglish: Translation of prophesy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prophesy for Arabic Speakers


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