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Borrowed from Latin prōvidēns, prōvidentis, present participle of prōvideō (I foresee; I am cautious; I provide): compare French provident. See provide. Doublet of prudent.


  • IPA(key): /ˈpɹɒvɪdənt/
  • (file)


provident (comparative more provident, superlative most provident)

  1. Possessing, exercising, or demonstrating great care and consideration for the future.
    • c. 1601–1602, William Shakespeare, “Twelfe Night, or VVhat You VVill”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene ii]:
      I saw your brother,
      Most provident in peril, bind himself,
      Courage and hope both teaching him the practise,
      To a strong mast that lived upon the sea;
    • 1608, Thomas Dekker, “Vincents Law”, in Nathaniell Butter, editor, The Belman of London[1], London:
      Since then that all kinde of Gaming serues but as gulphes to deuoure the substances of men, and to swallow them vp in beggerie, my counsell is vtterly either to refraine such pastimes, or if men are of such spirits that they must needes venture their money, then to be very prouident how they play, and to be choise of their company.
    • 1772, Richard Cumberland, W. Griffin, editor, The Fashionable Lover[2], London, Act 5, page 61:
      [] I have toiled on through eighteen years of wearisome adventure: crown’d with success, I now at length return, and find my daughter all my fondest hope could represent; but past experience makes me provident; I would secure my treasure; I would bestow it now in faithful hands—What say you, Sir, will you accept the charge?
    • 1865, Elizabeth Gaskell, “Chapter 21”, in Wives and Daughters[3]:
      She had forgotten her purse, she said, and was obliged to borrow from the more provident Molly, who was aware that the round game of which Miss Browning had spoken to her was likely to require money.
    • 1959, William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch[4], New York: Grove, published 1966, page 9:
      Provident junkies, known as squirrels, keep stashes against a bust.
  2. Showing care in the use of something (especially money or provisions), so as to avoid wasting it.
    • 1658, Jeremy Taylor, “A shorter forme of Morning prayer for a Family”, in R. Royston, editor, A Collection of Offices or Forms of Prayer in Cases Ordinary and Extraordinary[5], London:
      Grant us thy grace that we may be diligent in our businesse, just in our charges, provident of our time, watchfull in our dutie, carefull of every word we speak.
    • 1794, Ann Ward Radcliffe, “Chapter 11”, in G.G. and J. Robinson, editor, The Mysteries of Udolpho[6], volume 1, London, page 294:
      Ah! poor man, he was always more generous than provident, or he would not have left his daughter dependent on his relations.
    • 1803, Robert Charles Dallas, The History of the Maroons[7], volume 1, London: Longman and Rees, Letter 2, page 35:
      The Maroons, too, were much more provident of their ammunition than the troops were, seldom throwing a shot away ineffectually.
    • 2010, Howard Jacobson, “Chapter 7”, in The Finkler Question[8], New York: Bloomsbury, Part 2, page 165:
      Thanks to provident parents and a couple of good divorces she was not short of money.
  3. Providing (for someone’s needs).
    • 1794, George Rennie et al., General View of the Agriculture of the West Riding of Yorkshire[9], London: W. Bulmer, Appendix, No. 8, page 93:
      These advantages [the soil] receives from the culture of seeds, exclusive of the rest and manure, which is scattered upon it by that most provident of all cattle, sheep []
    • 1992, Adam Thorpe, Ulverton[10], New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, published 1993, page 165:
      My clerk tells me they are weak from hunger—but this cannot be in such provident country, of rich tilth, when the very Hedgerows have been evidently dripping with fruit.

Related terms[edit]






  1. third-person plural present active indicative of prōvideō