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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. 1599, William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Act I, Scene 2,[1]
      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, The Belman of London, London: Nathaniell Butter, “Vincents Law,”[2]
      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, The Fashionable Lover, London: W. Griffin, Act 5, p. 61,[3]
      [] 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, Wives and Daughters, Chapter 21,[4]
      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, New York: Grove, 1966, p. 9,[5]
      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 A Collection of Offices or Forms of Prayer in Cases Ordinary and Extraordinary, London: R. Royston,[6]
      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, The Mysteries of Udolpho, London: G.G. and J. Robinson, Volume 1, Chapter 11, p. 294,[7]
      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, London: Longman and Rees, Volume 1, Letter 2, p. 35,[8]
      The Maroons, too, were much more provident of their ammunition than the troops were, seldom throwing a shot away ineffectually.
    • 2010, Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question, New York: Bloomsbury, Part 2, Chapter 7, p. 165,[9]
      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, London: W. Bulmer, Appendix, No. 8, p. 93,[10]
      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, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1993, p. 165,[11]
      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