The Meaning of Precocious: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of precocious? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word precocious, including its definition, usage, word origin, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word precocious mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language as well as American Heritage and Collins English Dictionary, the word precocious is an adjective that means exceptionally early in development or occurrence, or exhibiting mature qualities at an early age. A precocious child is often one who exhibits early talents or intelligence beyond their age. The mental development of a child and their faculties is advanced in a child that is precocious. Precocious puberty is puberty that comes before standard. This word can also be used in reference to botany. The adverb form of precocious is precociously, and the noun form is precociousness or precocity. The pronunciation of precocious is ​​​prɪˈkəʊʃə​s. 

Many different languages also contain words that mean precocious. You may notice that some of these words look and sound similar to the word precocious. These are called cognates, which are words and phrases in different languages that look and sound similar and also mean similar things. These are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin. Below are translations of precocious, provided by Word Sense.

  •  Swedish: brådmogen‎
  •  Min Nan: lêng-lāi‎
  •  Serbo-Croatian: nadaren‎ (masc.), prerano razvijen‎
  •  Dutch: vroegrijp‎, vroegvolwassen‎
  •  Mandarin: 超齡‎ (chāo líng)
  •  Norwegian: bråmoden‎, tidlig moden‎
  •  Spanish: precoz‎
  •  Russian: скороспелый‎
  •  French: précoce‎
  •  Portuguese: precoce‎
  •  Italian: precoce‎
  •  Greek: πρώιμος‎
  •  German: frühreif‎
  •  Catalan: precoç‎
  •  Finnish: varhaiskypsä‎, pikkuvanha‎

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word precocious?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word precocious. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another word or phrase. Learning synonyms is a great way to expand your vocabulary and avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word precocious is provided by Thesaurus.

  •  aggressive
  •  sharp
  •  discerning
  •  aware
  •  nervy
  •  brassy
  •  premature
  •  quick-witted
  •  mature
  •  having smarts
  •  clever
  •  bright
  •  Einstein
  •  brainy
  •  clear-headed
  •  developed
  •  quick
  •  pushy
  •  intelligent
  •  keen
  •  advanced
  •  brilliant
  •  smart
  •  early
  •  beforehand
  •  flippant
  •  presumptuous
  •  alert
  •  fresh
  •  whiz kid
  •  precocious
  •  acute
  •  knowing
  •  ahead of time
  •  bold
  •  astute
  •  flip
  •  wide-awake
  •  smart-alecky
  •  cocky
  •  sassy
  •  ingenious
  •  inventive
  •  eggheaded
  •  cheeky
  •  forward

There are also numerous different words that have the opposite meaning of the word precocious. These opposite words are called antonyms. Learning antonyms is another great, easy way to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word precocious is also provided by Thesaurus.

  •  mentally handicapped
  •  obtuse
  •  ludicrous
  •  thick
  •  loser
  •  insensate
  •  half-witted
  •  pointless
  •  empty-headed
  •  simple
  •  futile
  •  stupefied
  •  dim
  •  stupid
  •  stolid
  •  dull
  •  unthinking
  •  brainless
  •  puerile
  •  ill-advised
  •  unintelligent
  •  gullible
  •  dazed
  •  laughable
  •  imbecilic
  •  irrelevant
  •  indiscreet
  •  shortsighted
  •  mindless
  •  out to lunch
  •  simpleminded
  •  slow
  •  nonsensical
  •  naive
  •  deficient
  •  rash
  •  dumb
  •  not intelligent
  •  thick-headed
  •  dummy
  •  idiotic
  •  dense
  •  witless
  •  moronic
  •  trivial
  •  senseless
  •  doltish
  •  half-baked
  •  dopey
  •  meaningless
  •  inane
  •  foolish
  •  sluggish
  •  mentally deficient

What is the origin of the word precocious?

According to Etymonline, the word precocious (adj.) has been used since the 1640s to mean developed or ripe before the usual time. Its original use to describe plants, like a species of magnolias or leaves. This comes from the Latin praecox or praecoc, the genitive praecocis/præcocis/​praecoquus, meaning maturing early. This comes from the Latin praecoquere, from the Latin prae meaning before and the Latin coquere meaning to ripen or to cook. This comes from Indo-European roots, namely the root pekw. This was originally used to describe flowers and fruits but was used to describe people by the 1670s. Related words include precociously (adv.) and precociousness (n.) which use the different suffixes ly and ness to create different parts of speech. 

How can the word precocious be used in a sentence?

The word precocious can be used in many different sentences in the English language. Below are a few examples of precocious. 

Some cisgender children go through early development or precocious puberty, in which they would reach maturation or have an adult characteristic far earlier than their peers. These children might choose to go on puberty blockers until an appropriate age, like a trans child. 

The young girl had a precocious wit and mental aptitude far beyond her age. 

The precocious flowers bloomed far before springtime in a surprising turn of events. The precocious magnolias often behaved this way, even in bleak times in cold-winter climates with no prospects. 

Her precocious musical talent for piano landed her in Princeton University at a young given age. She has the abilities of an adult and earned a high degree at age eleven. This precocious achievement allowed the precocious composer to play piano all around the world. 

The precocious kids at the doctor’s office were at an early stage of development; the parents could not figure out what caused this physical development nd a short juvenile period at an earlier age than their peers.

The solitary boy had a precocious talent for art. His proclivities for painting made him world-famous. 

When the parents could no longer provide financial support for their daughter, the principal contacted them. He believed her mental forwardness and precocious ability in school qualified her for a scholarship. 

The precocious teenager Jamie had achievements far beyond those of her peers. She performed as a soloist with the New York City Ballet and Zurich ballet, walked the latest fashions in New York Fashion Week, and urged for the political will of her peers.

The professor of English had a very scholarly family. His children Daniel, Millie and Angela were sent to Rome, Italy and Paris, France to encourage their precocious development and to reach important goals in their adolescence. I had always preferred their father’s academic gatherings to children’s parties. 

The 27-year-old poet’s ancestry made it clear that he would become one of the most famous British English poets today. He was a precocious young child, and poetry ran in his blood. He was a nice kid who was gifted with language; he knew sign language at six months old and was speaking by age one.

The parents took the precocious young child to St Andrews University. Here, they showed her specific signs and illustrations to test her intelligence. These had a calming effect on the child and it was clear that she was very precocious. 

Overall, the word precocious means maturing early or having an early development. This is often used to describe children who are wise beyond their years or who go through an early puberty. 

Sources: 

  1. PRECOCIOUS Synonyms: 26 Synonyms & Antonyms for PRECOCIOUS | Thesaurus 
  2. STUPID Synonyms: 62 Synonyms & Antonyms for STUPID | Thesaurus 
  3. precocious: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  4. precocious | Origin and meaning of precocious | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  5. Precocious | Definition of Precocious | Merriam-Webster