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From Middle English prodige (portent), from Latin prōdigium (omen, portent, prophetic sign).



prodigy (plural prodigies)

  1. An extraordinary occurrence or creature; an anomaly, especially a monster; a freak. [from 16th c.]
  2. An amazing or marvellous thing; a wonder. [from 17th c.]
  3. A wonderful example of something. [from 17th c.]
  4. An extremely talented person, especially a child. [from 17th c.]
  5. (archaic) An extraordinary thing seen as an omen; a portent. [from 15th c.]
    • 1717, Homer, [Alexander] Pope, transl., “Book XII”, in The Iliad of Homer, volume III, London: [] W[illiam] Bowyer, for Bernard Lintott [], →OCLC:
      These on the farther bank now stood and gazed, / By Heaven alarm’d, by prodigies amazed: / A signal omen stopp’d the passing host, / Their martial fury in their wonder lost.
    • 1727, William Warburton, “Part I”, in A Critical and Philosophical Enquiry into the Causes of Prodigies and Miracles, as Related by Historians. [], London: [] Thomas Corbett, [], →OCLC, page 1:
      Prodigies and Portents have infected the beſt VVritings of Antiquity; and have ſo blotted and deformed our modern Annals, that (vvith greater Juſtice than Polybius has obſerv'd it, of the former) they may be rather called Tragedies than History.
    • 1971, Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, Folio Society, published 2012, page 87:
      John Foxe believed that special prodigies had heralded the Reformation.


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