ODO defines providence as:

providence: [mass noun] 1 the protective care of God or of nature as a spiritual power: they found their trust in divine providence to be a source of comfort

(Providence) God or nature as providing protective care: I live out my life as Providence decrees

So is there any substantial difference in meaning if I were to replace "divine providence" with "Providence". For instance, in the following context:

Eugene acquired the chimpanzee, believing the chain of events experienced by him to be divine providence. They did not make sense otherwise. The chimpanzee was God’s emissary sent to him for a certain purpose. If he ignored the chimpanzee, it would be like ignoring Providence: impossible for a mere human to do.


1 Answer 1


There is a substantial difference between “God” and “the protective care of God”, so divine providence and Providence are not synonymous.

In your quoted passage, divine providence does not mean “the protective care of God”, but rather “provided/ordained by God” (see sense 5a in OED).

2. In full providence of God (also nature, etc.), divine providence. The foreknowing and protective care of God (or nature, etc.); divine direction, control, or guidance.

5. a. An act or instance of divine intervention; an event or circumstance which indicates divine dispensation.

6. a. Usu. in form Providence. God or nature as exercising prescient and beneficent power and direction.

[OED updated 2007]

  • So "divine providence" means "God's protective care / divine dispensation" while "Providence" means "God".
    – Soulz
    Apr 10, 2013 at 13:39
  • Yes. There is a difference between Providence as a proper noun and providence as a common noun.
    – Andrew Leach
    Apr 10, 2013 at 13:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.