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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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 After all, almost every savant, soothsayer or mildly observant Atlanta sports fan of the last quarter-century or so had figured the Braves would flame out before winning the World Series. New York Times, 4 Dec. 2021 Sanyu Nagenda, who works under the name Sanyu Estelle as a soothsayer, tarot reader and word witch, said one of her clients sent $500 to someone impersonating her on Instagram. Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times, 30 Nov. 2021 An intricate design emerges: Doerr’s a soothsayer obsessed with our survival, fearing the worst., 23 Sep. 2021 When Amaka was born, a local soothsayer had declared to Amaka’s father that his new son was actually the reincarnation of a female soul trapped in a male infant’s body. Wired, 1 Sep. 2021 In the weeks that followed, Milley played reassuring soothsayer to a string of concerned members of Congress and administration officials who shared his worries about Trump attempting to use the military to stay in office. Reis Thebault, Anchorage Daily News, 15 July 2021 The insight came via the performance of Gerald Rivers, who assumes the role of an emcee narrator in addition to playing the soothsayer. Los Angeles Times, 14 July 2021 Therein, three decades later, Perot’s words ring like a soothsayer’s cautionary tale of governments enabling the wrong chips. Steve Tengler, Forbes, 11 June 2021 Nick consults with a soothsayer, who informs him that the future of theatre involves acting, singing, and dancing all at once., 30 Apr. 2021 See More

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.

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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Cite this Entry

“Soothsayer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for soothsayer


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

Nglish: Translation of soothsayer for Spanish Speakers


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