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The dangers of having as much foresight as ever

Our local Mayor just posted a blog which included the phrase: “the dangers remain just as prescient”, which was probably a foolish slip in a city where every other person seems to be a professor of English. I imagine that our Mayor and perhaps many of his readers assume that ‘prescient’ is just a posh way of saying ‘present’. But we all know – don’t we? – that it means ‘having foresight’. However, it was a new one to add to my collection of words to avoid. Why? Because if the common perception of a particular word’s meaning is wrong, it’s not clever to use it correctly – it’s sowing confusion. Seriously, don’t feel sorry for the poor misunderstood word. Just find an alternative (but not alternate) way of expressing yourself that everyone will understand.

See also: systematic, proscribe, fortuitous, moot, begs the question, disinterested, parameters, etc…