pru·​dence ˈprü-dᵊn(t)s How to pronounce prudence (audio)
: the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason
: sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs
: skill and good judgment in the use of resources
: caution or circumspection as to danger or risk

Example Sentences

He always exercises prudence with his finances. advised to use some old-fashioned prudence when agreeing to meet face-to-face with an online acquaintance
Recent Examples on the Web Spoelstra said prudence was among the reasons that Heat did not travel with Jimmy Butler, with the forward missing a second consecutive game due to hip soreness. Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 4 Nov. 2022 In a two-hour speech to kick off the weeklong Communist Party Congress, Xi said that prudence would govern China’s efforts to peak and eventually zero out carbon emissions. Time, 17 Oct. 2022 Shane expresses her frustrations with pro-choice arguments based on the right to privacy or on medical prudence. Charlotte Shane, Harper’s Magazine , 26 Sep. 2022 Her only success was to make Johnson look like a model of prudence. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, 21 Oct. 2022 What was a matter of timing became a matter of prudence. Keshia Naurana Badalge, Longreads, 24 Apr. 2020 Reserve, self-containment, duty, responsibility, modesty of demeanor, graciousness, civility, prudence, fortitude. Daniel Henninger, WSJ, 14 Sep. 2022 Pro-lifers should respond to this defeat with courage and prudence. The Editors, National Review, 4 Aug. 2022 The company thinks that only about 1 percent of cars are affected, but prudence requires replacing them all. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, 9 Aug. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin prudentia, alteration of providentia — more at providence

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near prudence

Cite this Entry

“Prudence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



pru·​dence ˈprüd-ᵊn(t)s How to pronounce prudence (audio)
: the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason
: skill and good judgment in the management of affairs

Legal Definition



pru·​dence ˈprüd-ᵊns How to pronounce prudence (audio)
: attentiveness to possible hazard : caution or circumspection as to danger or risk
a person of ordinary prudence

More from Merriam-Webster on prudence

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