pru·​dent | \ ˈprü-dᵊnt How to pronounce prudent (audio) \

Definition of prudent

: characterized by, arising from, or showing prudence: such as
a : marked by wisdom or judiciousness prudent advice
b : shrewd in the management of practical affairs prudent investors
c : marked by circumspection : discreet

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from prudent

prudently adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for prudent

wise, sage, sapient, judicious, prudent, sensible, sane mean having or showing sound judgment. wise suggests great understanding of people and of situations and unusual discernment and judgment in dealing with them. wise beyond his tender years sage suggests wide experience, great learning, and wisdom. the sage advice of my father sapient suggests great sagacity and discernment. the sapient musings of an old philosopher judicious stresses a capacity for reaching wise decisions or just conclusions. judicious parents using kindness and discipline in equal measure prudent suggests the exercise of restraint guided by sound practical wisdom and discretion. a prudent decision to wait out the storm sensible applies to action guided and restrained by good sense and rationality. a sensible woman who was not fooled by flattery sane stresses mental soundness, rationality, and levelheadedness. remained sane even in times of crises

It Is Prudent to Read Up on This Word History

Prudent arrived in Middle English around the 14th century and traces back, by way of Middle French, to the Latin verb providēre, meaning "to see ahead, foresee, provide (for). "Providēre" combines pro-, meaning "before, and vidēre, meaning "to see, and it may look familiar to you; it is also the source of our "provide," "provident," "provision," and "improvise." "Vidēre" also has many English offspring, including "evident," "supervise," "video," and "vision."

Examples of prudent in a Sentence

An endless war is not always the most moral or the most prudent course of action. — Richard A. Posner, New Republic, 2 Sept. 2002 We missed the Mass for St. Rose of Lima, who, though prudent, had failed to be martyred and was therefore only second-string. — Darryl Pinckney, High Cotton, 1992 Prudent burners take several precautions. Burning one of two bordering fields, they wet the edge of one or the other, usually the one being burned, to prevent the flames from jumping. — Alec Wilkinson, Big Sugar, 1989 Since the inexplicable power of a magnetized needle to "find" the north smacked of black magic …  . For many decades the prudent sea captain consulted his compass secretly. — Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoverers, 1983 He always listened to her prudent advice. You made a prudent choice.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

But in keeping three QBs on Saturday, Shanahan eschewed prudent and pragmatic team-building strategies; instead opting for an unrealistic and idealistic path that plays to his ego. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, "Kurtenbach: The 49ers’ roster was shaped by Kyle Shanahan’s ego," 31 Aug. 2019 The driver of the car, 22-year-old Ames, was issued traffic violations for speed greater than reasonable and prudent, a lap and shoulder belt required and child passenger restraint. Mike Cruz, azcentral, "Dravon Ames arrested on suspicion of driving with a suspended license, say DPS officials," 30 Aug. 2019 The more efficient, and perhaps more prudent, way for Sweeney to gain access to the Backes money would be to wheel him to a budget team in need of reaching the payroll floor of $60.2 million. Kevin Paul Dupont,, "Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo next on Bruins’ list," 13 July 2019 Patience is more prudent, and giving up both Šarić and a late lottery pick for the chance to draft a 20-year-old substantiates the idea of a longer timeline. Rob Mahoney,, "Trade Grades: Suns Send Jarrett Culver to Wolves in Head-Scratching Deal," 20 June 2019 Your judgments about how your friend is behaving might be prudent and your choice not to involve your young daughter is a sound one, but no one enjoys being judged. Ask Amy, al, "Ask Amy: Divorced friend crosses too many moral boundaries to keep friendship alive," 21 May 2019 Where Israelis are divided, however, is on whether throwing in Israel’s lot with Trump and the Republican Party was prudent to begin with. Ruth Margalit, The New Yorker, "What Israeli and Palestinian Activists Had Hoped to Tell Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib," 20 Aug. 2019 Penney’s debt approach is prudent, said Debtwire senior analyst Philip Emma. Maria Halkias, Dallas News, "Where does J.C. Penney's turnaround stand? It's testing new ideas in Texas," 26 July 2019 Customers are being more prudent with inventories because of the uncertain geopolitical trade situation. NBC News, "Big week for earnings as Wall Street watches for weakness," 23 July 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of prudent

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for prudent

Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin prudent-, prudens, contraction of provident-, providens — more at provident

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about prudent

Listen to Our Podcast about prudent

Statistics for prudent

Last Updated

21 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prudent

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for prudent



English Language Learners Definition of prudent

: having or showing careful good judgment


pru·​dent | \ ˈprü-dᵊnt How to pronounce prudent (audio) \

Kids Definition of prudent

: wise and careful in action or judgment

Other Words from prudent

prudently adverb


pru·​dent | \ ˈprüd-ᵊnt How to pronounce prudent (audio) \

Legal Definition of prudent

: characterized by, arising from, or showing prudence

Other Words from prudent

prudently adverb

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on prudent

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with prudent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prudent

Spanish Central: Translation of prudent

Nglish: Translation of prudent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prudent for Arabic Speakers

Comments on prudent

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


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!