pru·​dence | \ˈprü-dᵊn(t)s \

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

It is said that speed kills, but that prudence and a will to survive can dissuade the Grim Reaper from doing his thing., "Immigrants want what we have: the American Dream," 12 July 2018 Don’t let your emotions get in the way of prudence. Ken Fisher, USA TODAY, "401(k) investors: Follow the 5% rule to protect your retirement savings," 17 June 2018 Milder slowdowns have scared the government off the path of prudence before. The Economist, "China has made progress in tackling financial risks," 14 June 2018 For it cannot be presumed that the same degree of sound policy, prudence, and foresight would uniformly be observed by each of these confederacies for a long succession of years. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Fox News Power Rankings: Hello, Wisconsin," 12 July 2018 Although Facebook prohibits incitement and hate speech, there is no clear line between prudence and censorship. Amanda Taub And Max Fisher, New York Times, "Where Countries Are Tinderboxes and Facebook Is a Match," 21 Apr. 2018 The Holy Spirit will give us wisdom, prudence, strength to build up the kingdom of God in our midst. San Antonio Express-News, "Archbishop’s homily remembers refugees, César Chávez," 1 July 2018 Scheduling prudence has been a major topic in tennis over the last 12 months, which have seen several top players forced to reckon with rest versus readiness. Ben Rothenberg, New York Times, "After 342 Days, Andy Murray Returns to the Court (and Loses)," 19 June 2018 If this remains focused on prudence, the budget maneuvers may not be much of a worry. John Myers,, "California lawmakers craft new ways to stash away budget cash," 17 June 2018

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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Statistics for prudence

Last Updated

4 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for prudence

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

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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 \

Kids Definition of prudence

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


pru·​dence | \ˈprüd-ᵊns \

Legal Definition of prudence 

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on prudence

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prudence

Spanish Central: Translation of prudence

Nglish: Translation of prudence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prudence for Arabic Speakers

Comments on prudence

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


playful or foolish behavior

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