sooth·​say·​er ˈsüth-ˌsā-ər How to pronounce soothsayer (audio)
: a person who predicts the future by magical, intuitive, or more rational means : prognosticator

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 website's dating service
Recent Examples on the Web Political soothsayers also tend to forget that Trump may be spending considerable time early in the year scowling in courtrooms with the possibility of multiple guilty verdicts hovering over the campaign. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 28 Sep. 2023 According to reporting by noted Apple news soothsayer Mark Gurman, this could be the year Apple begrudgingly adopts the standard, which is ubiquitous across the rest of the electronics industry. Boone Ashworth, WIRED, 11 Sep. 2023 Salvatore was saving his life, and doing it with a soothsayer’s ability. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 30 Aug. 2023 During the third and fourth centuries ad, when the ancient world was shaken to its core and everything was changing, there were so many astrologers, clairvoyants, and soothsayers that the popes took fright. Olga Tokarczuk, Harper's Magazine, 6 Jan. 2023 Imagine how this show would have been received if the controversy had never happened; if it had been unveiled from his perch as high soothsayer of the industry. Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, 6 Mar. 2023 According to technology analyst and Apple soothsayer Ming-Chi Kuo, the company is likely to push back its reveal of the headset until the third quarter of this year at the earliest. WIRED, 1 Apr. 2023 But the reality is those experts are not perfect fortunetellers or soothsayers. Steve Nabity, Forbes, 7 Mar. 2023 As every Roman historian and Shakespeare fan knows, a soothsayer once told Caesar to beware the Ides of March, for on that day, dark and terrible things would happen. Nate Anderson, Ars Technica, 15 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'soothsayer.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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


Dictionary Entries Near soothsayer

Cite this Entry

“Soothsayer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


sooth·​say·​er ˈsüth-ˌsā-ər How to pronounce soothsayer (audio)
: a person who claims to foretell events

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