sooth·​say·​er | \ ˈsüth-ˌsā-ər How to pronounce soothsayer (audio) , -ˌser \

Definition of soothsayer

: a person who predicts the future by magical, intuitive, or more rational means : prognosticator

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Did You Know?

The origins are straightforward: a soothsayer is someone who says sooth. You may, however, find that less than enlightening! Sooth is an archaic word meaning "truth" or "reality" that dates from Old English and was used until about the first half of the 17th century. (It is believed to share an ancestor with words suggesting truthfulness and reality in Old Norse, Greek, Old High German, Sanskrit, Latin, and Gothic languages.) Soothsayer itself has been documented in print as far back as the 14th century. Today, it is also a moniker of the insect the mantis, whose name means "prophet" in Greek.

Examples of soothsayer in a Sentence

a soothsayer predicted that I would meet the man of my dreams online, assuming of course that I became a subscriber to the Web site's dating service
Recent Examples on the Web Nothing in a soothsayer’s tool kit can predict how this will play out with only Biden and Buttigieg campaigning in Iowa unencumbered by impeachment responsibilities. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "The Perils of Going Negative," 15 Jan. 2020 Through the 20th century, a sprawling market of urban soothsayers grew. Sam Kestenbaum, New York Times, "Keano Is N.Y.’s Most Famous and Mysterious Subway Psychic. I Found Her.," 8 Nov. 2019 In the central bit of nonsense, Nick visits a soothsayer (Ross Lehman in hilarious fettle) to try and learn the name of his rival’s biggest hit and then turn that into a musical to catch a new fashion. Chris Jones,, "Marriott’s ‘Something Rotten!’ is good, clever musical fun at old Shakespeare’s expense," 9 Sep. 2019 Raleigh, ruled by her soothsayer daughters, seems to have been expecting these distressed visitors. Chris Jones,, "A Red Orchid’s new ‘Grey House’ is Chicago’s most terrifying show," 22 Oct. 2019 When a local soothsayer says the next big thing in theater will feature people singing, dancing and acting, all at the same time, the siblings pen world’s very first — and wackiest — musical. Andrea Simakis, cleveland, "‘The Scottsboro Boys’ and ‘Disgraced’ part of Beck Center’s ambitious lineup: Fall Theater Preview 2019," 29 Sep. 2019 Schematic soothsayers will emerge from every corner of the football universe trying to get in on the fracas. Conor Orr,, "After Kingsbury: What to Look for in the Next Wave of NFL Coaching Hires," 10 July 2019 Yet only in America has the curve been a soothsayer. The Economist, "Yield curves help predict economic growth across the rich world," 27 July 2019 Many market soothsayers are expecting the Federal Reserve to cut rates in July, and any sign of a sluggish economy supports their theory. Allison Schrager, Quartz, "Investors are betting on a rate cut. They shouldn’t.," 12 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'soothsayer.' 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 soothsayer

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

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Last Updated

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Soothsayer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for soothsayer


How to pronounce soothsayer (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of soothsayer

old-fashioned : someone who makes predictions about what is going to happen in the future


sooth·​say·​er | \ ˈsüth-ˌsā-ər How to pronounce soothsayer (audio) \

Kids Definition of soothsayer

: a person who claims to foretell events

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More from Merriam-Webster on soothsayer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for soothsayer

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with soothsayer

Spanish Central: Translation of soothsayer

Nglish: Translation of soothsayer for Spanish Speakers

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