Printable Version
Pronunciation: pri-vaiz, prê-vaiz Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. To foresee, to forecast, to predict, to know in advance. 2. To forewarn, to notify in advance.

Notes: Today's Good Word belongs to the vision family, a family semantically related to seeing. The noun for this verb even contains the word vision; it is, in fact, prevision. This word has an adjective, previsional, and an adverb previsionally. Someone who has the powers to previse is known as a previsor. Careful of the suffix: -or, not -er. It is conjugated like its cousin advise.

In Play: The first meaning of this word is simply "foresee": "Lawmakers cannot previse how people will contrive to circumvent the laws they make." The second meaning of today's word is "forewarn": "Be prevised not to use the saltshaker at any table where Benny is sitting: he always loosens the saltshaker cap when no one is looking."

Word History: Today's word comes from the Latin praevis-, past participial stem of praevidere "to foresee", made up of prae- "before, pre-" + videre "to see". The first person singular of videre is video "I see", which the world has now adopted for a small-screen motion picture. The Proto-Indo-European root weid- "see" spread throughout the Indo-European language family. In English it became wise, since previsors are perceived to be wise people. In German it because wissen "know", because wise people know a lot. The Old English word for "know" was witan; all we have left of this word is wit. (Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira, one of the staunch editors of the Good Word series, prevised a need for a Good Word today, and recommended this one.)

Dr. Goodword,

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