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[prof-it] /ˈprɒf ɪt/
a person who speaks for God or a deity, or by divine inspiration.
  1. a person chosen to speak for God and to guide the people of Israel:
    Moses was the greatest of Old Testament prophets.
  2. (often initial capital letter) one of the Major or Minor Prophets.
  3. one of a band of ecstatic visionaries claiming divine inspiration and, according to popular belief, possessing magical powers.
  4. a person who practices divination.
one of a class of persons in the early church, next in order after the apostles, recognized as inspired to utter special revelations and predictions. 1 Cor. 12:28.
the Prophet, Muhammad, the founder of Islam.
a person regarded as, or claiming to be, an inspired teacher or leader.
a person who foretells or predicts what is to come:
a weather prophet; prophets of doom.
a spokesperson of some doctrine, cause, or movement.
Origin of prophet
1150-1200; Middle English prophete < Late Latin prophēta < Greek prophḗtēs, equivalent to pro- pro-2 + -phētēs speaker, derivative of phánai to speak
Related forms
prophethood, noun
prophetless, adjective
prophetlike, adjective
Can be confused
profit, prophet. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for prophethood


a person who supposedly speaks by divine inspiration, esp one through whom a divinity expresses his will related adjective vatic
a person who predicts the future: a prophet of doom
a spokesman for a movement, doctrine, etc
(Christian Science)
  1. a seer in spiritual matters
  2. the vanishing of material sense to give way to the conscious facts of spiritual truth
Derived Forms
prophetess, noun:feminine
prophet-like, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French prophète, from Latin prophēta, from Greek prophētēs one who declares the divine will, from pro-² + phanai to speak


noun the Prophet
the principal designation of Mohammed as the founder of Islam
a name for Joseph Smith as founder of the Mormon Church
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for prophethood



late 12c., "person who speaks for God; one who foretells, inspired preacher," from Old French prophete, profete "prophet, soothsayer" (11c., Modern French prophète) and directly from Latin propheta, from Greek prophetes (Doric prophatas) "an interpreter, spokesman," especially of the gods, "inspired preacher or teacher," from pro- "before" (see pro-) + root of phanai "to speak," from PIE *bha- (2) "speak" (see fame (n.)).

The Greek word was used in Septuagint for Hebrew nabj "soothsayer." Early Latin writers translated Greek prophetes with Latin vates, but the Latinized form propheta predominated in post-Classical times, chiefly due to Christian writers, probably because of pagan associations of vates. In English, meaning "prophetic writer of the Old Testament" is from late 14c. Non-religious sense is from 1848; used of Muhammad from 1610s (translating Arabic al-nabiy, and sometimes also al-rasul, properly "the messenger"). The Latin word is glossed in Old English by witga.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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prophethood in Culture

prophet definition

Someone who brings a message from God to people. The best-known prophets are those of the Old Testament. Their most frequent themes were true worship of God, upright living, and the coming of the Messiah. They often met with bitter resistance when they spoke against the idol worship and immorality of their people. Among the prophets of the Old Testament were Daniel, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, and Moses.

Prophets also appear in the New Testament. Jesus called John the Baptist a prophet; Christians consider him a bridge between the prophets of the Old Testament and those of the New Testament. Jesus mentions “true prophets” and “false prophets” — those who present the true message of God and those who present a counterfeit (see By their fruits ye shall know them and wolves in sheep's clothing). He himself was considered a prophet in his lifetime (see A prophet is not without honor save in his own country) and is still widely revered by non-Christians as a prophet, though not as the Messiah. The New Testament also mentions that some of the early Christians were prophets who spoke inspired messages to their communities.

Note: In general usage, a “prophet” is someone who can foretell the future. The prophets of the Bible often made predictions, which confirmed their authority when the predictions came true, but changing the lives of their people was a more central part of their mission.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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