pre·​science | \ ˈpre-sh(ē-)ən(t)s How to pronounce prescience (audio) , ˈprē-, -s(ē-)ən(t)s \

Definition of prescience

: foreknowledge of events:
a : divine omniscience
b : human anticipation of the course of events : foresight

Other Words from prescience

prescient \ ˈpre-​sh(ē-​)ənt How to pronounce prescience (audio) , ˈprē-​ , -​s(ē-​)ənt \ adjective
presciently adverb

Synonyms for prescience


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If you know the origin of "science," you already know half the story of "prescience." "Science" comes from the Latin verb scire, which means "to know" and which is the source of many English words ("conscience," "conscious," and "omniscience," just to name a few). "Prescience" comes from the Latin verb praescire, which means "to know beforehand." "Praescire" joins the verb "scire" with the prefix prae-, a predecessor of "pre-." A lesser-known "scire"-derived word is "nescience." Nescience means "ignorance" and comes from "scire" plus "ne-," which means "not" in Latin.

Examples of prescience in a Sentence

He predicted their response with amazing prescience. Her prescience as an investor is impressive.
Recent Examples on the Web Though the teaser looks chillingly familiar 18 months into a real-life pandemic, the series began filming before COVID-19 turned the world upside-down, underscoring the story's eerie prescience. Seija Rankin,, 2 Nov. 2021 Timbuk3 clearly had great prescience: Just a year after this song’s release, David Pritchard and Steven Chu first trapped atoms in a magneto-optical trap (or MOT) at Bell Labs, laying the foundation for the cold atom revolution to follow. Paul Lipman, Forbes, 3 Sep. 2021 Fortunately, a team of filmmakers had the prescience to document the experiment from the start. Anna Boots, The New Yorker, 6 Aug. 2021 Montgomery believes that Butler’s prescience is evident today. Alice George, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 July 2021 The complex is also a symbol of Blackstone’s prescience. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 11 June 2021 To the Editor: In his essay, Joe Klein pays tribute to the complexity and prescience of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s thought. New York Times, 4 June 2021 As much as a knack for provocation or his scholarly bona fides, what Ferguson has been selling for 20 years as a major public intellectual is prescience. Ian Beacock, The New Republic, 7 June 2021 Russell attributes its prescience to the unapologetic nature of Gavin’s writing and the perils of modernity. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, 28 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prescience.' 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 prescience

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for prescience

Middle English, from Late Latin praescientia, from Latin praescient-, praesciens, present participle of praescire to know beforehand, from prae- + scire to know — more at science

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

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Last Updated

13 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prescience.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of prescience

: the ability to know what will or might happen in the future : foresight


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