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

1400–50; late Middle English prospecte < Latin prōspectus outlook, view. See prospectus
Related formspros·pect·less, adjectivepros·pec·tor [pros-pek-ter, pruh-spek-ter] /ˈprɒs pɛk tər, prəˈspɛk tər/, nounnon·pros·pect, nounun·der·pros·pect, noun

Synonyms for prospect

6, 7. See view. 7, 8. perspective. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for prospecting

Historical Examples of prospecting

  • The one who afterwards gave the name of Dunn, answered, 'Prospecting a little.'

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

    Spinifex and Sand

    David W Carnegie

  • Prospecting his needs is part of your job as a salesman of yourself.

    Certain Success

    Norval A. Hawkins

  • Prospecting of the sort they did, besides proving unfruitful, is not comfortable.

    Lin McLean

    Owen Wister

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

    The Fiction Factory

    John Milton Edwards

British Dictionary definitions for prospecting


noun (ˈprɒspɛkt)

(sometimes plural) a probability or chance for future success, esp as based on present work or aptitudea good job with prospects
a vision of the future; what is foreseen; expectationshe 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
(tr) to work (a mine) to discover its profitability
(intr often foll by for) to search (for)
Derived Formsprospectless, adjective

Word Origin for prospect

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

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper