1 : exceptionally early in development or occurrence
2 : exhibiting mature qualities at an unusually early age
Did You Know?
Precocious got started in Latin when the prefix prae-, meaning "ahead of," was combined with the verb coquere, meaning "to cook" or "to ripen," to form the adjective praecox, which means "early ripening" or "premature." By the mid-1600s, English speakers had turned praecox into precocious and were using it especially of plants that produced blossoms before their leaves came out. By the 1670s, precocious was also being used to describe humans who developed skills or talents before others typically did.
"They explained to me that we were going to watch people audition…. I ended up jumping onstage and singing something…. They thought I was precocious enough to be put in the chorus of the production. I was the only kid." — Johnny Galecki, quoted in The Las Cruces (New Mexico) Sun-News, 8 Mar. 2017
"Apricots, almonds, and other fruit trees are notoriously vulnerable to frost damage of buds or precocious flowers…." — Michael Bone et al., Steppes: The Plants and Ecology of the World's Semi-arid Regions, 2015
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
Fill in the blanks to complete a verb derived from Latin coquere that means "to prepare by combining raw materials": co _ _ o _ t.VIEW THE ANSWER
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