Word of the Day : April 1, 2017


noun vuh-tiss-uh-NAY-shun


1 : something foretold : prediction

2 : the act of prophesying

Did You Know?

When George Orwell's novel 1984 was published in 1949, a displeased critic said it broke "all records for gloomy vaticination." (In Orwell's favor, another critic asserted, "It is impossible to put the book down.") While it's about as difficult to predict the future of a word as the future of the world, hindsight reveals that vaticination has endured better than other words based on Latin vates, meaning "prophet." Vaticinian ("prophetic"), vaticinar ("prophet"), vaticinatress ("prophetess"), and vaticiny ("prophesy") have all faded into obscurity (although two synonyms of prophetic, vatic and vaticinal, also keep the vates lineage alive today).


"In fact, origin stories are not about the past at all: they are not eyewitness reportage, they are not history, they are not diary entries detailing actual bygone events. Similarly, end-time stories are not about the future at all: they are not predictions, they are not vaticinations, they are not crystal-ball visions.… The stories are fictive efforts offered as instructions for the present moment." — J. H. McKenna, The Huffington Post, 5 Dec. 2016

"Imagined futures that are really thinly disguised commentaries on current affairs are not chiefly concerned with reliable prediction. Yet look in the periphery of such allegorical tales and you can find some surprisingly accurate vaticination." — The Economist, 10 June 2006

Test Your Vocabulary

Fill in the blanks to complete a word for mischievous or playful activity: m _ n _ e _ s _ i _ es.



More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!