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[fawr-see, fohr-] /fɔrˈsi, foʊr-/
verb (used with object), foresaw, foreseen, foreseeing.
to have prescience of; to know in advance; foreknow.
to see beforehand.
verb (used without object), foresaw, foreseen, foreseeing.
to exercise foresight.
Origin of foresee
before 900; Middle English; Old English foresēon. See fore-, see1
Related forms
foreseeable, adjective
foreseeability, noun
foreseer, noun
unforeseeable, adjective
unforeseeableness, noun
unforeseeably, adverb
unforeseeing, adjective
unforeseen, adjective
well-foreseen, adjective
1. divine, discern. See predict. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for unforeseen
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Here was a perplexing and unforeseen dilemma; and how to dispose of the cavalier was a question of no slight importance.

  • She is infinite as ocean, she is variable as heaven, and her name is the unforeseen.

    Cleopatra H. Rider Haggard
  • And in the career of the general the unforeseen adventures are the most interesting.

    Real Soldiers of Fortune Richard Harding Davis
  • Then, as is quite usual, there was an incident that had been unforeseen in our excitement.

    Learning to Fly Claude Grahame-White
  • An unforeseen event followed, however, which ended in a series of most terrible catastrophes.

    The Giant of the North R.M. Ballantyne
British Dictionary definitions for unforeseen


not seen or known beforehand; unanticipated


verb -sees, -seeing, -saw, -seen
(transitive; may take a clause as object) to see or know beforehand: he did not foresee that
Derived Forms
foreseeable, adjective
foreseer, noun
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 unforeseen

1650s, from un- (1) "not" + past participle of foresee. Cf. Middle Dutch onvoresien, Dutch onvoorzien, Middle High German unvorsen.



Old English foreseon "have a premonition," from fore- "before" + seon "to see, see ahead" (see see (v.)). Related: Foresaw; foreseeing; foreseen.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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