pro·​spec·​tive | \ prə-ˈspek-tiv also ˈprä-ˌspek-, prō-ˈspek-, prä-ˈspek-\

Definition of prospective

1 : relating to or effective in the future
2a : likely to come about : expected the prospective benefits of this law
b : likely to be or become a prospective mother

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Other Words from prospective

prospectively adverb

Examples of prospective in a Sentence

In 2005 [Jerry] Colangelo arranged face-to-face sit-downs with every prospective national team player, to hear in their own words why they wanted to represent their country. — Alexander Wolff, Sports Illustrated, 28 July 2008 All too often in the post-Vietnam past—the first Gulf War, for example—the default position of the Democratic Party has been to assume that any prospective use of U.S. military power would be immoral. — Joe Klein, Time, 21 Aug. 2006 All of these arguments were prospective, all anticipated the role that public opinion would play in future constitutional disputes. — Jack N. Rakove, Original Meanings … , 1996
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Recent Examples on the Web

Inspect the photos of your prospective abode to see if your idea of neatness lines up with theirs, and read the reviews. Donna Bulseco, WSJ, "The Secret to Scoring a Vacation Home That’s (Practically) Free," 11 Jan. 2019 And with nearly 9 in 10 employers screening the background of prospective candidates, most young people with a criminal history may struggle to find a job for years after serving their punishment. Peter Rezk, Teen Vogue, "America’s Criminal Justice System Is Failing Young People Like Me. Clean Slate Laws Are the Answer," 14 Dec. 2018 Most such prospective parents choose instead to terminate the pregnancy. Chris Kaposy, STAT, "Children with Down syndrome live good lives. Prenatal testing shouldn’t nudge parents toward pregnancy termination," 18 May 2018 Many companies offer an array of screens to prospective parents. Roni Dengler, Science | AAAS, "Should you get a genetic screen before having kids?," 10 May 2018 Friedman - an Orthodox Jewish rabbinical observer hired by the prospective parents - took a step back, lowered her eyes and began to pray. Ariana Eunjung Cha,, "40 years after 1st 'test tube' baby, science has produced 7 million babies - and raised moral questions," 27 Apr. 2018 Unfortunately, the small catch is that the value of Kate's ex-apartment has rocketed over the past sixteen years and, thanks to its dream location and rather famous past tenants, the home is now up for sale for a prospective £1,950,000 ($2,468,954). Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Kate and Pippa Middleton's Old London Apartment Is Up for Sale, if You Have a Spare $2.5 Million," 10 Dec. 2018 When the first item from a five-part collaboration arrives in—ok, more like around—the Whitney Shop tomorrow, prospective buyers will have to be ready for an adventure. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Want a Limited Edition Warhol-Inspired Tee? You’ll Have to Work for It," 15 Nov. 2018 Ohio was very much at the center of the prospective Trumpian realignment in American politics. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Sherrod Brown reelected to US Senate: old-time labor liberalism triumphs over Ohio’s rightward drift," 7 Nov. 2018

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

1788, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for prospective

see prospect entry 1

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Last Updated

16 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for prospective

The first known use of prospective was in 1788

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More Definitions for prospective



English Language Learners Definition of prospective

: likely to be or become something specified in the future

: likely to happen


pro·​spec·​tive | \ prə-ˈspek-tiv, ˈprä-ˌspek-\

Kids Definition of prospective

1 : likely to become a prospective buyer
2 : likely to come about prospective benefits


pro·​spec·​tive | \ prə-ˈspek-tiv \

Medical Definition of prospective

: relating to or being a study (as of the incidence of disease) that starts with the present condition of a population of individuals and follows them into the future — compare retrospective

Other Words from prospective

prospectively \ -​lē \ adverb

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pro·​spec·​tive | \ prə-ˈspek-tiv, ˈprä-ˌspek- \

Legal Definition of prospective

1 : relating to or effective in the future a statute's prospective effect
2 : likely to come about : expected to happen prospective inability to perform the contract
3 : likely to be or become a prospective buyer

Other Words from prospective

prospectively adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on prospective

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with prospective

Spanish Central: Translation of prospective

Nglish: Translation of prospective for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prospective for Arabic Speakers

Comments on prospective

What made you want to look up prospective? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a complex dispute or argument

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