pro·​spec·​tus | \ prə-ˈspek-təs How to pronounce prospectus (audio) , prä- \
plural prospectuses

Definition of prospectus

1 : a preliminary printed statement that describes an enterprise (such as a business or publication) and that is distributed to prospective buyers, investors, or participants
2 : something (such as a statement or situation) that forecasts the course or nature of something

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Prospectus Is a Word for the Forward-Thinking

Like prospect, prospectus looks forward. Thus, a prospectus originally outlined something that didn't yet exist, describing what it would become. This might even be a book; the great dictionary of Noah Webster, like that of Samuel Johnson, was first announced in the form of a prospectus, so that well-to-do people might actually subscribe to it—that is, pay for it in advance so that Webster would have money to live on while writing it. Soon, prospectus was being used to mean a description of a private school or college, intended to attract new students. Today the word very often means a description of a stock offering or mutual fund, whether new or not.

Examples of prospectus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In the first half of this year, Ant’s digital-lending business accounted for 39% of the company’s 72.5 billion yuan, equivalent to $11.1 billion, in revenues, according to its IPO prospectus. Xie Yu, WSJ, "China Tells Ant Group to Refocus on Its Payments Business," 27 Dec. 2020 JD Health is the largest online health-care platform and online pharmacy by revenue in China, according to its prospectus. Julia Fioretti,, "JD to Raise $3.5 Billion in Biggest Asia Health-Care IPO," 1 Dec. 2020 Airbnb unveiled its prospectus, putting it on track for an initial public offering (IPO) next month, just as the first doses of the covid-19 vaccine may become available. The Economist, "Public holidays Airbnb’s stockmarket debut will be a hit," 21 Nov. 2020 SoftBank itself alluded to the momentum in its prospectus, saying it had been encouraged to join in after watching the space heat up. Michelle Toh, CNN, "SoftBank joins Wall Street's latest craze in hunt for acquisitions," 22 Dec. 2020 The money will be used to fund new-product efforts and build the company’s e-commerce presence, GameStop said in a prospectus. Olga Kharif,, "GameStop Plunges After Announcing Sluggish Sales, Stock Sale," 8 Dec. 2020 On page 364 of a nearly 500-page prospectus of one of the deals was a table that summarized Mr. Kassirer’s success buying out tenants. Cezary Podkul, WSJ, "Wall Street-Funded Plan to Gentrify Affordable Housing Crumbles in Harlem," 25 Oct. 2020 Major owners of DoorDash stock include entities affiliated with SoftBank Group Corp. , Sequoia Capital and the government of Singapore, according to the company’s prospectus for the public offering. Micah Maidenberg, WSJ, "DoorDash’s IPO Delivers as Shares Surge in Market Debut," 9 Dec. 2020 The money will be used to help fund efforts to add new products and build its e-commerce presence, GameStop said in a prospectus. Bloomberg Wire, Dallas News, "GameStop to sell $100 million in stock for e-commerce play after posting sluggish sales," 8 Dec. 2020

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

1765, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for prospectus

Latin, prospect

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Time Traveler for prospectus

Time Traveler

The first known use of prospectus was in 1765

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Statistics for prospectus

Last Updated

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prospectus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for prospectus


How to pronounce prospectus (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of prospectus

: a printed statement that describes something (such as a new business or investment) and that is sent to people who may want to be involved in it or invest in it
chiefly British : a book or document that provides information about a school, business, etc.


pro·​spec·​tus | \ prə-ˈspek-təs How to pronounce prospectus (audio) \
plural prospectuses\ -​tə-​səz \

Legal Definition of prospectus

: a preliminary printed statement describing a business or other enterprise and distributed to prospective buyers, investors, or participants specifically : a description of a new security issue supplied to prospective purchasers and providing a disclosure of detailed information concerning the company's business and financial standing

Note: Under the Securities Act of 1933, the prospectus is part of the registration statement that must be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission before a security may be offered or sold to the public. The Securities Act defines prospectus broadly as “any prospectus, notice, circular, advertisement, letter, or communication, written or by radio or television, which offers any security for sale or confirms the sale of any security.”

More from Merriam-Webster on prospectus

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prospectus

Nglish: Translation of prospectus for Spanish Speakers

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