In a Word: Prescient

March 28, 2011|By John McIntyre, The Baltimore Sun

Each week, The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. Use it in a sentence in a comment on his blog, You Don't say, and the best sentence will be featured next week. This week's word:


If only we had known then what we know now. Last week's word, sagacity, was about possession of wisdom. If you are sagacious, there's a chance, though not a certainty, that you are also prescient, having or showing a knowledge of events before they occur. Latin praescientia -- prae, "before," scientia "knowledge" -- is foreknowledge, prescience in English. The prescient (pronounced PRESH-ent) among us may not have a divine foreknowledge of events to come, but they don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows, either.

Example: People who had dined once at the White House, recognizing that Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt had engaged a cook of stunning incompetence, were prescient enough to eat beforehand when invited to dinner there.

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