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 Along the way, there’s a Western ghost town populated by zombie cowboys, where our heroes meet a rolling, sentient tumbleweed soothsayer known as Sage, portrayed by a gently aflame Keanu Reeves. Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run Will Make You a Better Person," 5 Mar. 2021 Ask to similarly play soothsayer for 2021, Mr. Cohen sighed deeply. New York Times, "Andy Cohen Had a Year," 30 Dec. 2020 These soothsayer-magicians would tell a general whether or not to march or to do battle by the formations of the birds on the wing. Richard Lederer, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Here’s a classical primer of political word origins," 19 Sep. 2020 Prepping has gone mainstream, its adherents no longer fringe actors but quirky soothsayers of sorts. Kate Knibbs, Wired, "Notes From an Apocalypse," 16 Apr. 2020 Steve, soothsayer Kiz: Legitimately excited by the potential of Courtland Sutton, Phillip Lindsay and the young core, many Broncomaniacs will be raising glasses of Orange Kool-Aid on New Year’s Eve. Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post, "Kickin’ It with Kiz: Why Broncos quarterback Drew Lock is luckiest thing to happen to John Elway since Terrell Davis," 28 Dec. 2019 Like soothsayers of the past (except using data and reasoning), data scientists read patterns and signs to forecast what companies could do for growth or to solve problems. Whizy Kim,, "The 10 Best Jobs of 2020, According to Glassdoor (Surprise, Most Are In Tech)," 17 Jan. 2020 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

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

14 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Soothsayer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for soothsayer



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

More from Merriam-Webster on soothsayer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for soothsayer

Nglish: Translation of soothsayer for Spanish Speakers

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