• Characterized by good, thoughtful judgement and proper planning for the future
  • Having wisdom or insight in regards to practical affairs, especially finances


Radio and extra batteries - check. Bottles of water - check. Enough canned food to nourish a small nation - check. Maps (rolled, not folded) - check. It's nice to be prepared, whether for a natural disaster, your retirement, or any other significant event. You never know what life will throw at you, so being prudent can really pay off!

Prudent describes someone or something as showing special care or thought towards matters of the future. Although often applied to someone who is cautious with money, a person can be prudent by showing any form of good judgement or foresight, such as by making a to-do list to save time or buying emergency supplies before a storm. The word is almost always used with a positive connotation, as it implies a high level of insight into practical activities. As a result, a person who is prudent is often regarded as wise, shrewd, and considerate. It is also important to note that prudent suggests a certain level of intelligence or acumen; this sets it apart from similar words such as stingy or tightfisted. Whereas someone who is stingy is needlessly conservative, the person who is prudent will eventually reap some kind of benefit.

Example: After seeing my latest term bill, I realized just how prudent I had been to apply for so many scholarships.

Example: Knowing she would have to drive later, Kelly made the prudent choice not to have a drink.

Derivative Words

Prudence: The noun form of the word prudent describes the actual good judgement that is shown.

Example: One always shows proper prudence by making use of the powder-room before a long trip.

Examples of Prudence in daily life: (1) Budgeting wisely, (2) Thinking before speaking, (3) Planning ahead.

Prudently: The adjectival form of prudent describes an action as being of sound reasoning or judicious foresight.

Example: After hearing the weather report, Tim prudently filled the gas tank of his snow-blower.

Prudential: Prudential is an adjective with a similar usage as prudent; it characterizes something that is resultant of or exhibits intelligent planning.

Example: Having not been prudential with her workload, Jamie found herself racing to complete her paper the night before it was due.


Prudent originated as the contraction of another word entirely. The Latin term in which it has its roots, prudentem (meaning "knowing," "wise," or "judicious,"), is a derivative of the word providens (meaning "foreseeing" or "providing for,"), indicating that it described one who provided for the future. The word took on a more familiar form in the late 14th century as the Old French word prudent; from there, it would've been easy to foresee how it would made its way into the English language.

In Literature

From Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth:

Neither one of the couple cared for money, but their disdain of it took the form of always spending a little more than was prudent.

Here, Wharton shows the fine line between not worrying too much about money and being properly aware of one's financial status.


One might mistake the word prude as meaning a person who is prudent, but really the two are very different. Rather than being someone who plans for the future, a prude is someone who is easily upset or offended by lapses in etiquette or modesty. Despite the similarity of the two words, it is thought that prude actually derives from the Old French prode, meaning "proud," "virtuous," or "good."


  • Prove your good sense by planning ahead and being prudent!
  • A future-minded student is always prudent.


Judgement, Future, Wisdom, Finances, Savings

Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of prudent. Did you use prudent in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.