[ klair-voi-uhnt ]
/ klɛərˈvɔɪ ənt /
Save This Word!

having or claiming to have the power of seeing objects or actions beyond the range of natural vision: Not being clairvoyant, I did not foresee the danger of ignoring her advice.
of, by, or pertaining to clairvoyance: Unlike more talented witches, I had to make do with love potions and occasional clairvoyant visions.
a clairvoyant person: A clever clairvoyant could make a fortune in the stock market.

OTHER WORDS FOR clairvoyant

1 psychic, prescient, visionary, second-sighted, telepathic; intuitive, empathetic; prophetic.
3 psychic, telepathist, empath; prophet, visionary; diviner, foreteller, foreseer, forecaster, fortune-teller, medium, seer.


What Does It Mean To Be Clairvoyant?

In the 19th century, the term clairvoyant was widely used in a medical context. So when did it change?

Do you know the difference between everyday US and UK terminology? Test yourself with this quiz on words that differ across the Atlantic.
Question 1 of 7
In the UK, COTTON CANDY is more commonly known as…
Compare clairaudient.

Origin of clairvoyant

First recorded in 1665–75; from French: literally, “clear seeing,” equivalent to clair “clear, clearly ”+ voyant “seeing” (present participle of voir “to see,” from Latin vidēre ); see origin at clear, wit,-ant

historical usage of clairvoyant

Clairvoyant literally means “clear-sighted” in French, and for nearly 200 years that is what it meant in English as well. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that it took on the meaning of “having psychic gifts” or “seeing beyond” that it carries today.
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.
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.

popular references for clairvoyant

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.

OTHER WORDS FROM clairvoyant

clair·voy·ant·ly, adverb

Quotations related to clairvoyant

  • "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)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use clairvoyant in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for clairvoyant

/ (klɛəˈvɔɪənt) /

of, possessing, or relating to clairvoyance
having great insight or second sight
a person claiming to have the power to foretell future events

Derived forms of clairvoyant

clairvoyantly, adverb
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