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

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to speak as if divinely inspired
: to give instruction in religious matters : preach
: to make a prediction
prophesier 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 Courtesy of Prime Video A decade ago, cord-cutters prophesied a world free of exorbitant cable bills where everyone binged The Office without intrusions from advertisers. Angela Watercutter, WIRED, 29 Jan. 2024 The French philosophe the Marquis de Condorcet prophesied that, with the press finally free, the world would be bathed in the light of reason. Daniel Immerwahr, The New Yorker, 13 Nov. 2023 Republicans also exploit economic anxieties about the transition to greener energy sources, prophesying (baselessly) that Biden’s climate policies will end in economic disaster. Liza Featherstone, The New Republic, 3 Nov. 2023 Of course, our present is far more complex than what prior generations prophesied. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, 18 Sep. 2023 Silently, austerely, his work seemed to prophesy a future state in which photography would colonize the immanent world and illusions overtake reality. Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2023 The fear the villagers experience in the film is also due to a church prophesy that an apocalyptic darkness lasting 80 days is imminent. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 7 Aug. 2023 With Elder Blood in her veins, Ciri is prophesied to be the savior of the world, not to mention her untapped magical powers and elven lineage. Sydney Odman, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 July 2023 Mark had prophesied, and Suzette had confirmed through interpretation, a period of apocalyptic chaos, which would commence with a nuclear war and end with the second coming of Christ. Benjamin Hale, Harper's Magazine, 10 July 2023 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near prophesy

Cite this Entry

“Prophesy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


proph·​e·​sy ˈpräf-ə-ˌsī How to pronounce prophesy (audio)
prophesied; prophesying
: to speak or write like a prophet
prophesier noun

More from Merriam-Webster on prophesy

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