having prescience, or knowledge of things or events before they exist or happen; having foresight: The prescient economist was one of the few to see the financial collapse coming.
Going from back to front, praescīscere is a compound verb made up of the inceptive verb scīscere “to get to know” (an inceptive verb is one that shows the beginning of an action), formed from the simple verb scīre “to know” and the inceptive infix -sc-. Prae- is the tricky part: It is the Latin preposition and prefix prae, prae- “in front, ahead, before.”
Even in very early Republican times, Latin country dialects simplified the diphthong ae to ē (or long e ), as in rustic Latin hēdus for urban (that is, Roman) haedus “goat.” By the time of the late Republic, in the first century b.c., and the first century a.d., in early Imperial times, the change from ae to ē became general, first in unaccented vowels and afterward in accented vowels too. By the fourth century, ae and e (or short e ) were also confused, and written texts show baene for Classical Latin bene “well,” and braevis for Classical Latin brevis “short.” The Roman grammarian Servius, in a note on the Aeneid, feels it necessary to explain that miserae is the adjective, not the adverb miserē.
The confusion of ae and e persisted throughout ancient, medieval, and modern times. Even today British English prefers the spelling ae, and Americans the spelling e (especially in scientific and medical terms derived via Latin from Greek), as in anaemia and anemia, haemophilia and hemophilia, leukaemia and leukemia, paediatrics and pediatrics.
- pre·scient·ly, adverb
- non·pre·sci·ent, adjective
- non·pre·sci·ent·ly, adverb
- un·pre·scient, adjective
- un·pre·scient·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use prescient in a sentence
Their influence would, David Bazelon argued presciently, explode when they achieved “an awareness of themselves as a class.”The Revolt Against the Masses and the Roots of Modern Liberalism | Fred Siegel | January 26, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Half a year earlier, he presciently said Sunnis had begun to “awaken” (his word) in Anbar Province.
The exhibition is organized by the Royal Academy and Cape Farewell, the presciently titled Arctic research and expedition program.
“Who would have thunk it,” said Madonna somewhat presciently when discussing her marriage to Guy Ritchie a couple of years ago.
It was at this time that the flame caught him, which he had always presciently sought to avoid lest it should burn him up.Keats | Sidney Colvin
Baxter vents one deep groan of indignation, and presciently announces one future consequence of Reform!Curiosities of Literature, Vol. 3 (of 3) | Isaac Disraeli
He legislated well and presciently, they imagine, for the interests of a remote posterity.
"She's tried her wings; I see it in her face," said Auntie presciently and sadly.Selina | George Madden Martin
She had turned to him for help then—he seemed presciently aware that she was turning to him for help now.The Shadow of the East | E. M. Hull