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

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 Initially, of course, the role would have been taken by an actor assuming blindness and taking on the soothsayer, Tiresias-like qualities that Maugham assigned to the character. Chris Jones,, "Griffin Theatre's 'For Services Rendered' is like 'Downton Abbey,' about the wrenching change of the Great War," 3 June 2019 His description of a political party hollowed out by corruption, sanctimony and faux patriotism, determined to impoverish the working class in order to enrich its rich patrons, was as prescient a description of today’s GOP as a soothsayer’s. Michael Hiltzik,, "In Britain, will Trump absorb his hero Winston Churchill’s hatred of tariffs?," 3 June 2019 According to the Greek biographer and essayist Plutarch, Caesar really was instructed to beware the Ides of March by a soothsayer. Jill Gleeson, Country Living, "So, What Exactly Are the Ides of March?," 15 Mar. 2019 Trump’s onetime soothsayer Steve Bannon is trying to emerge from exile after the president dumped him for his backbiting, leaky ways in the White House. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "No, free market conservatives are not becoming Dems," 31 July 2018 Beauty soothsayer @trendmood1 posted a photo on Instagram of Supreme's supposedly in-the-works red lipstick. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Is Supreme's Rumored Red Lipstick Launching Soon? Fans on Instagram Think So," 27 Aug. 2018 The Carpathian mountains have always had a magical air; the region is home to the country’s last shamans, fortune-tellers and soothsayers who carry on an ancient Eurasian tradition. Linda Kinstler, Longreads, "Angrily Experiencing the Best Days of Our Lives," 27 June 2018

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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Last Updated

31 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for soothsayer

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

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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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with soothsayer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for soothsayer

Spanish Central: Translation of soothsayer

Nglish: Translation of soothsayer for Spanish Speakers

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