pru·​dence | \ ˈprü-dᵊn(t)s How to pronounce prudence (audio) \

Definition of prudence

1 : the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason
2 : sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs
3 : skill and good judgment in the use of resources
4 : caution or circumspection as to danger or risk

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Examples of prudence in a Sentence

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 Sadly, America turned out to be a place that values fear over honesty, self-importance over humanity, vengeance over prudence, loudness over listening. Washington Post, 10 Sep. 2021 The trustee’s fiduciary duties include a duty of loyalty and a duty of prudence. Matthew Erskine, Forbes, 31 Aug. 2021 Sunday, March 15 Worship leaders concerned about the coronavirus face a dilemma: how to offer a message of optimism and a sense of community at a time when prudence dictates separation and caution. Chris Foran, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12 Aug. 2021 Personal prudence is fine, and people can calibrate their own risk tolerance. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 19 July 2021 These maneuvers were not done out of principle or financial prudence but represented a naked exercise in political gamesmanship. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 10 Aug. 2021 But after trying something new — fiscal prudence — the Knicks have built themselves in the image of their first-year coach, Tom Thibodeau, who barks instructions with the low growl of an outboard motor. New York Times, 23 May 2021 Though his own policies didn’t always follow his rhetoric, there were few pleas for fiscal prudence from the right during his administration, even as the debt and deficit ballooned. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 22 July 2021 For instance, the character strength of prudence, or the ability to be careful in one’s choices and to stop and think before acting, tends to be helpful in the areas of temperance, justice, and positive thinking. Mark Travers, Forbes, 30 May 2021

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.

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First Known Use of prudence

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for prudence

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

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Time Traveler for prudence

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

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Last Updated

20 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prudence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for prudence



English Language Learners Definition of prudence

: careful good judgment that allows someone to avoid danger or risks


pru·​dence | \ ˈprü-dᵊns How to pronounce prudence (audio) \

Kids Definition of prudence

: careful good judgment that allows someone to avoid danger or risks


pru·​dence | \ ˈprüd-ᵊns How to pronounce prudence (audio) \

Legal Definition of prudence

: attentiveness to possible hazard : caution or circumspection as to danger or risk a person of ordinary prudence

More from Merriam-Webster on prudence

Nglish: Translation of prudence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prudence for Arabic Speakers


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