What It Means
1 archaic : of, relating to, or marked by illusion, conjuring, or trickery
2 : having an illustrious name or reputation : esteemed in general opinion
prestigious in Context
Carla was overjoyed to receive an acceptance letter from the prestigious university.
"The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has announced 16 finalists for its closely watched SECA [Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art] Art Award for 2019. The awards are the region's most prestigious recognition for emerging artists." — Charles Desmarais, The San Francisco Chronicle, 14 Dec. 2018
Did You Know?
You may be surprised to learn that prestigious had more to do with trickery than with respect when it was first used in the mid-16th century. The earliest (now archaic) meaning of the word was "of, relating to, or marked by illusion, conjuring, or trickery." Prestigious comes to us from the Latin word praestigiosis, meaning "full of tricks" or "deceitful." The words prestige and prestigious are related, of course, though not as directly as you might think; they share a Latin ancestor, but they entered English by different routes. Prestige, which was borrowed from French in the mid-17th century, initially meant "a conjurer's trick," but in the 19th century it developed an extended sense of "blinding or dazzling influence." That change, in turn, influenced prestigious, which now means simply "illustrious or esteemed."
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