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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English prophecien; partly from prophecie, and partly from Middle French prophecier, prophesier, from prophecie (prophecy).

Alternative forms[edit]


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈpɹɒfɪsaɪ/
  • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈpɹɑfɪsaɪ/


prophesy (third-person singular simple present prophesies, present participle prophesying, simple past and past participle prophesied)

  1. To speak or write with divine inspiration; to act as prophet. [from 14th c.]
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Joel 2:28:
      And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
    • 1648, Robert Herrick, “Not every day fit for Verse” in Hesperides, London: John Williams & Francis Eglesfield, p. 285,[1]
      ’Tis not ev’ry day, that I
      Fitted am to prophesie:
      No, but when the Spirit fils
      The fantastick Pannicles:
      Full of fier; then I write
      As the Godhead doth indite.
    • 1958, Chinua Achebe, chapter 11, in Things Fall Apart, New York: Astor-Honor, published 1959, part 1:
      [] at that very moment a loud and high-pitched voice broke the outer silence of the night. It was Chielo, the priestess of Agbala, prophesying. There was nothing new in that. Once in a while Chielo was possessed by the spirit of her god and she began to prophesy.
  2. To predict, to foretell (with or without divine inspiration). [from 14th c.]
  3. To foreshow; to herald; to prefigure.
  4. (intransitive, Christianity) To speak out on the Bible as an expression of holy inspiration; to preach. [from 14th c.]
    • 1646, Jeremy Taylor, Of the Liberty of Prophesying, Section 4, in Treatises of 1. The liberty of prophesying, 2. Prayer ex tempore, 3. Episcopacie: together with a sermon, London: R. Royston, 1648, p. 73,[3]
      [] if we consider that we have no certain wayes of determining places of difficulty and Question, infallibly and certainly [] we shall see a very great necessity in allowing a liberty in Prophesying without prescribing authoritatively to other mens consciences, and becomming Lords and Masters of their Faith.
Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English pprophesy, prophesie, prophessye, prophesye.


prophesy (countable and uncountable, plural prophesies)

  1. Obsolete spelling of prophecy; now a misspelling.
    • 1588, John Harvey, A Discoursive Probleme concerning Prophesies, how far they are to be valued or credited, page 8:
      I take it néedles, and booteles to make ouer déepe, or ſcrupulous enquiry into euery moſt auncient, and obſolete antiquitie: I preſuppoſe it ſufficient to peruſe, and examine the moſt famous, and moſt autentique ſuppoſed propheſies, that haue curranteſt paſſage, and repaſſage in moſt mouthes, and bookes: conſidering how eaſily euerie indifferent man may proportionably make eſtimation of the woorſe, by the better, and ratably value the one by the other.
    • 1670, Thomas Price, The Mystery of Mysteries Revealed in the Fullnesse of Time. [], London: Printed by T. R. and T. D. for William Saywell [], page 25:
      This was the fullneſs of Time, in which all the Propheſies (concerning the Meſſias) were exactly fulfilled. Nothing was ever foretold of Jeſus Chriſt, which was not exactly performed in the fullneſs of Time.
    • 1690, J[ohn] B[utler], Bellua Marina: or the Monstrous Beast Which Arose out of the Sea. [], London: [] George Croom, title page:
      BEING An Hiſtorical Deſcription of the Papal Empire, as it is Originally Copied out of the Propheſies of Holy Writ.
    • 1894 July, “The American Association: Proceedings of the Nineteenth Annual Meeting at Niagara Falls”, in The National Nurseryman, volume 2, number 6, page 74:
      From 1890, when the McKinley bill passed, nursery products had steadily declined, until to-day many articles were being offered at rates below the actual cost of production, so that the people who favored the restoration of the duty have lived to see their prophesies falsified, because the result has not been to decrease the plantage and increase the price, but has had exactly the opposite effect.
    • 1975 December, The Student[4], volume LV, number 3, Nashville, Tenn.: The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention:
      I’ve watched the “magic” and the “mystery” of the Bible from soul-winning clinics, Salvation Army curb services, and stadiumsful-on-crusade to perjury-proofing on Perry Mason (“Swear to tell the whole truth . . . so help me God.”) to prophesies of submarines by desert-dwellers!
    • 2007, Emily Givner, A Heart in Port[5], page 202:
      The nut-bar in Bed Three kept us all awake with his morose, nonsensical prophesies.
    • 2013, Loretta Lees, Tom Slater, Elvin Wyly, Gentrification:
      Prophesies of degentrification appear to have been overstated as many neighborhoods continue to gentrify while others, further from the city center begin to experience the process for the first time.
    • 2016, David Udo, “The Last Days”, in The Ripples:
      We bend our knees to the ground
      Seeking refuge from the One on High
      To redeem us from the
      Prophesies of the fore-days
      Consigning these daysafter
      The last days, as the evil days