My question concerns the exact meaning of the verb 'foresaw' in the following context:

Marx pointed out that capitalist undertakings tend to grow larger and larger. He foresaw the substitution of trusts for free competition, and predicted that the number of capitalist enterprises must diminish as the magnitude of single enterprises increased.

The sentence 'He predicted X' essentially means that he anticipated X to be the case in the future, and his prediction may be either right or wrong.

Does the sentence 'He foresaw Y' imply that he anticipated Y to be the case someday and we now know that Y has indeed occurred?

1 Answer 1


The exact sense in which these two words have been used could be made out by context alone. But Dictionary.com has a little section about the subtle differences in meanings of these two (and other synonymous) words. Kindly see if this is of any help.

To foresee refers specifically not to the uttering of predictions but to the mental act of seeing ahead; there is often (but not always) a practical implication of preparing for what will happen:

He was clever enough to foresee this shortage of materials.

To predict is usually to foretell with precision of calculation, knowledge, or shrewd inference from facts or experience: The astronomers can predict an eclipse; it may, however, be used without the implication of underlying knowledge or expertise: I predict she'll be a success at the party.

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    Just to pile on… as Merriam-Webster describes, foresee means “to see (something, such as a development) beforehand.” Their definition makes no mention of conveying that foresight to others. By contrast, predict generally suggests a communicating. Note that etymologically, predict and foretell are completely analogous, and both involve a speaking. Commented May 11 at 15:20

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