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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Either way, this extreme caution may simply be a prudent survival strategy for the sharks. Jason G. Goldman, Scientific American, "Orcas May Turn Great White Sharks into Scaredy Cats," 8 July 2019 Shapiro: Shelling out $58 million for Terry Rozier isn’t exactly a prudent way for the Hornets to save face after letting Kemba Walker walk to Boston. The Si Staff,, "Debating the Best and Worst Deals of NBA Free Agency," 5 July 2019 So Shell has to coax investors along with a mix of hard cash and prudent investments. The Economist, "Shell’s boss delivers some hard truths on oil and climate change," 4 July 2019 The reimbursement would be paid by shareholders if the utility was found to have not taken prudent safety measures. Mercury News & East Bay Times Editorial Boards, The Mercury News, "Editorial: Newsom wildfire plan is solid — if PG&E is held accountable," 26 June 2019 In the absence of prudent fiscal policy, the Fed’s first priority should be to do no harm. WSJ, "The Fed Must Consider the Long-Term Economy," 16 June 2019 But the bigger question is that if the Heat's ultimate goal is cap space either next summer or the 2021 offseason, then patience to simply allow contracts to expire after the coming season might be the most prudent approach. Ira Winderman,, "ASK IRA: Is best approach with Dragic, Whiteside to wait for expiration date?," 26 June 2019 Storm radars stationed on land use radio frequencies that pass through storm systems and don’t record prudent information for predicting intensity such as water temperature and depth, Spratt said. Joe Mario Pedersen,, "With Falcon Heavy launch, new tools to decipher hurricane intensity make it to space," 25 June 2019 With the issuance of notices of allegations fast approaching, the prudent approach for Arizona is to buckle up, bear down and prepare for anything. Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, "As the NCAA readies its case, Arizona should brace for the worst (just ask USC)," 13 June 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.

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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

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Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for prudent

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

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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

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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

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