Origin of clairvoyant
In the 19th century, the term clairvoyant was widely used in a medical context. An especially astute doctor might be able to see a patient’s symptoms and try to make a “clairvoyant diagnosis.” While some of these doctors were legitimate and extremely skilled, the term “clairvoyant physician” was generally used to describe your typical 19th-century quack. Occasionally, these people were brought to justice. The 39th Volume of The Journal of the American Medical Association contains an article about one such court case, from 1898, in which one can find this rant: “Whether the plaintiff calls herself a medical clairvoyant, or a clairvoyant physician…matters little…it was held that she was not entitled to recover for her services, she having no license to practice medicine.”
As the meaning of clairvoyant started to shift, reference books of the time attempted to approximate the new uses of the word. The 1873 edition of The American Cyclopaedia describes a clairvoyant as someone who can see through opaque objects, therefore possessing the power to “read a book unopened, or a letter which is enclosed in a solid wood box.” Today, however, clairvoyant carries more spiritual connotations, and such skills would never be cheapened by freak-show displays like divining the text of an unopened book. Rather, the modern clairvoyant prefers only to “see” things that cannot be easily refuted by disbelieving skeptics.
— The Clairvoyant: A 1934 film starring Claude Rains and Fay Wray.
— The Clairvoyant Journals: A conceptual art piece (1978) by poet Hannah Weiner. It was written in the form of a diary with 3 concurrent and contrasting voices narrating, and was performed live.
—“The Clairvoyant”: A 1988 song by the band Iron Maiden, purportedly inspired by the death of British psychic Doris Stokes.
- "His younger sisters had joked that he was clairvoyant because he always knew they were in trouble before they did."-Elizabeth Lowell Moving Target (2002)
- "I was asked one day by a young woman to buy tickets for a lecture on clairvoyance…[H]er clairvoyant powers ought to have informed her that I had no intention of purchasing tickets to her lecture."-John Milne Bramwell Hypnotism: Its History, Practice and Theory (1903)
- "Individuals gifted with clairvoyant vision have an advantage above those who depend solely on the five senses of perception."-Thomas White Visions of a Tibetan Master: Through Chaos to Logos (2007)
- "[A] clairvoyant might read and interpret spirit messages though a range of tools including tarot cards and crystals."-Elizabeth Hallam, Jenny Hockey, Glennys Howarth Beyond the Body: Death and Social Identity (1999)
Related Words for clairvoyantvisionary, diviner, medium, sibyl, seer, prophet, augur, oracle, soothsayer, telepathist, discerning, far-sighted, fey, judicious, oracular, penetrating, perceptive, prescient, prophetic, sibylline
Examples from the Web for clairvoyant
Contemporary Examples of clairvoyant
The “clairvoyant camel” has picked Argentina over Germany in the World Cup final.The Amazing Tale of Paul the Psychic Octopus: Germany’s World Cup Soothsayer
July 12, 2014
Because the former commissioner at the center of the “newly re-burgeoning” IRS “scandal” is clearly a clairvoyant.The Woman at the Center of the IRS ‘Scandal’ Must Be Clairvoyant
June 23, 2014
It's not Dickens' finest work, but it may be one of his most clairvoyant.David's Bookclub: Hard Times
September 24, 2012
It seemed as if Michel, in his own clairvoyant way, was already preparing to write Bush's memoirs.Bush's Ghostwriter
March 9, 2010
Anyone who says he knows what effect this will have on the tax code is a clairvoyant.Pass the Christmas Pork, Please
December 24, 2009
Historical Examples of clairvoyant
You're a kind of a mixture of a clairvoyant and a Sherlock Holmes, you are.In Apple-Blossom Time
Clara Louise Burnham
We know that in his case Love's clairvoyant instinct had got its nightcap on.The Dop Doctor
Clotilde Inez Mary Graves
I am a clairvoyant and trance-medium, with materialization as a specialty.The Strange Adventures of Mr. Middleton
Wardon Allan Curtis
Neither spoke for a moment or two; then he said, quietly: "I did not know you were clairvoyant."Athalie
Robert W. Chambers
As a critic, too, though illuminating and reassuring, he is far from clairvoyant.Visions and Revisions
John Cowper Powys
1834 in the psychic sense; see clairvoyant (adj.). Earlier it was used in the sense "clear-sighted person" (1794). Fem. form was Clairvoyante.