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[pros-pekt] /ˈprɒs pɛkt/
Usually, prospects.
  1. an apparent probability of advancement, success, profit, etc.
  2. the outlook for the future:
    good business prospects.
anticipation; expectation; a looking forward.
something in view as a source of profit.
a potential or likely customer, client, etc.
a potential or likely candidate.
a view, especially of scenery; scene.
outlook or view over a region or in a particular direction.
a mental view or survey, as of a subject or situation.
  1. an apparent indication of ore or native metal.
  2. a place giving such indications.
  3. a mine working or excavation undertaken in a search for additional ore.
Archaic. sight; range of vision.
verb (used with object)
to search or explore (a region), as for gold.
to work (a mine or claim) experimentally in order to test its value.
verb (used without object)
to search or explore a region for gold or the like.
in prospect, under consideration; expected; in view:
He had no other alternative in prospect.
Origin of prospect
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English prospecte < Latin prōspectus outlook, view. See prospectus
Related forms
prospectless, adjective
[pros-pek-ter, pruh-spek-ter] /ˈprɒs pɛk tər, prəˈspɛk tər/ (Show IPA),
nonprospect, noun
underprospect, noun
6, 7. See view. 7, 8. perspective. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for prospecting
Historical Examples
  • prospecting generally was done by organized parties numbering anywhere from five to fifty men.

  • prospecting” is generally taken to mean searching for gold.

    Spinifex and Sand David W Carnegie
  • prospecting for valuable metals by electricity has been recently introduced in Wales with remarkable success.

    The Universe a Vast Electric Organism George Woodward Warder
  • prospecting of the sort they did, besides proving unfruitful, is not comfortable.

    Lin McLean Owen Wister
  • prospecting of the bed has proved very satisfactory, and the shares in the company's stock have sold at a high rate.

  • "prospecting trips" is the name Edwards gives to his frequent journeys to the publishing center of the country.

    The Fiction Factory John Milton Edwards
  • The one who afterwards gave the name of Dunn, answered, 'prospecting a little.'

    Policing the Plains R.G. MacBeth
  • prospecting for alluvial gold at shallow depths is a comparatively easy process, requiring no great amount of technical knowledge.

    Getting Gold J. C. F. Johnson
  • prospecting to find out just how much that hundred thousand or two or three you've sunk in me is worth.

  • prospecting the higher slopes, silver ore was discovered, and a host of miners came in, and began digging on all the hills.

    The Crest of the Continent Ernest Ingersoll
British Dictionary definitions for prospecting


noun (ˈprɒspɛkt)
(sometimes pl) a probability or chance for future success, esp as based on present work or aptitude: a good job with prospects
a vision of the future; what is foreseen; expectation: she was excited at the prospect of living in London, unemployment presents a grim prospect
a view or scene, esp one offering an extended outlook
a prospective buyer, project, etc
a survey or observation
  1. a known or likely deposit of ore
  2. the location of a deposit of ore
  3. a sample of ore for testing
  4. the yield of mineral obtained from a sample of ore
verb (prəˈspɛkt)
when intr, often foll by for. to explore (a region) for gold or other valuable minerals
(transitive) to work (a mine) to discover its profitability
(intransitive) often foll by for. to search (for)
Derived Forms
prospectless, adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Latin prōspectus distant view, from prōspicere to look into the distance, from prō- forward + specere to look
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 prospecting



early 15c., "act of looking into the distance," from Latin prospectus "distant view, look out; sight, faculty of sight," noun use of past participle of prospicere "look out on, look forward," from pro- "forward" (see pro-) + specere "look at" (see scope (n.1)). Meaning "extensive view of the landscape" is from 1530s; transferred sense of "mental view or survey" is from 1620s. Sense of "person or thing considered promising" is from 1922. Prospects "expectations, things looked forward to" is from 1660s.


"explore for gold, examine land with a view to a mining claim," 1841, from prospect (n.) in specialized sense of "spot giving prospects of ore" (1832). Earlier in a sense "look forth, look out over" (1550s), from Latin prospectare. Related: Prospected; prospecting.



"explore for gold, examine land with a view to a mining claim," 1841, from prospect (n.) in specialized sense of "spot giving prospects of ore" (1832). Earlier in a sense "look forth, look out over" (1550s), from Latin prospectare. Related: Prospected; prospecting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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