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[fawr-see, fohr-] /fɔrˈsi, foʊr-/
verb (used with object), foresaw, foreseen, foreseeing.
to have prescience of; to know in advance; foreknow.
to see beforehand.
verb (used without object), foresaw, foreseen, foreseeing.
to exercise foresight.
Origin of foresee
before 900; Middle English; Old English foresēon. See fore-, see1
Related forms
foreseeable, adjective
foreseeability, noun
foreseer, noun
unforeseeable, adjective
unforeseeableness, noun
unforeseeably, adverb
unforeseeing, adjective
unforeseen, adjective
well-foreseen, adjective
1. divine, discern. See predict. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for unforeseen
  • But in choosing to be there, they became central players in an ugly suburban drama sown with unforeseen twists.
  • But the rush to announce or publish findings can sometimes cause unforeseen problems when it comes to protecting.
  • The weakening of some criminal gangs has had unforeseen consequences.
  • Yet sometimes an unforeseen event can turn the initial imagery of a name into a painful irony.
  • There will be unforeseen consequences, there always are.
  • But the process of building the new garden turned into an adventure with a few unforeseen twists.
  • Each creative nudge to the conversation expands it, with threads spiraling off in unforeseen directions.
  • They added that extensive use of a vaccine on animals could have unforeseen effects on other species in their food chain.
  • Citing a fairly serious and unforeseen health problem, one contributor withdrew.
  • But even then the downturn would not be caused by dearer money itself so much as by the shock of bad unforeseen news.
British Dictionary definitions for unforeseen


not seen or known beforehand; unanticipated


verb -sees, -seeing, -saw, -seen
(transitive; may take a clause as object) to see or know beforehand: he did not foresee that
Derived Forms
foreseeable, adjective
foreseer, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for unforeseen

1650s, from un- (1) "not" + past participle of foresee. Cf. Middle Dutch onvoresien, Dutch onvoorzien, Middle High German unvorsen.



Old English foreseon "have a premonition," from fore- "before" + seon "to see, see ahead" (see see (v.)). Related: Foresaw; foreseeing; foreseen.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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