Grammar Prophecy or Prophesy: Which Spelling Is Correct? |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Prophecy or Prophesy: Which Spelling Is Correct?

Imagine that a higher cosmic power decided to speak with you directly. Overnight you might become a prophet. But did you receive a prophecy or a prophesy? Will you prophesy or prophecy to other people?

If you’re looking answers you’re in the right place. Today we will review the proper use of each word.

The Difference Between Prophecy and Prophesy

Though some may assume that these are differently spelled variations of the same word, it’s not the case, as each one has its own meaning. To understand the differences, let’s consider both of them in addition to a word that’s related.

A prophet (noun) is someone who spreads a message that comes from a deity of some kind.

A prophecy (noun) is a prediction issued by a prophet.

Prophesy (verb) means to predict the future through divine revelation.

These words are close in spelling and definition because they share a common root in older languages (particularly Latin and Greek). They started appearing in English in the 1300s.

As you can see, despite their great similarities, they are still distinct from one another.

Examples of Prophecy and Prophesy in Proper Use

Remember that while prophet and prophecy are nouns (things), to prophesy is a verb (action word). Keeping that in mind will help you apply the correct spelling according to the context.

His prophecy was that in the end all the world would unite in a spirit of love.

Almost every major religion has some sort of cataclysmic prophecy as part of its story.

She felt as if her creator had called on her to prophesy a message to all within her community.

Prophecy, Prophesize, Prophesy

A prophecy is a prediction.

When prophets make prophecies, they prophesy, not “prophesize.”

It will be a crowning achievement, prophesized its chief engineer. Lose that z and make it prophesied. It is doubtful you could find any dictionary anywhere that lists “prophesize.” Even the nonjudgmental Webster’s New World College Dictionary shuns this common (mis)usage.

Pop Quiz

Choose the correct word in each sentence.

1. I find his sermons interesting, but I can’t say I believe his [prophecy / prophesy] will come true.

2. His [prophecy / prophesy] about the end of the world involves aliens from another dimension.

3. One ancient [prophecy / prophesy] says that we will evolve into pure energy.

4. After his conversion, Jimmy tried to [prophecy / prophesy] to the crowd, but none would hear him.

5. It’s hard to take a [prophecy / prophesy] seriously when the prophet is also a used-car salesman.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

1. I find his sermons interesting, but I can’t say I believe his prophecy will come true.

2. His prophecy about the end of the world involves aliens from another dimension.

3. One ancient prophecy says that we will evolve into pure energy.

4. After his conversion, Jimmy tried to prophesy to the crowd, but none would hear him.

5. It’s hard to take a prophecy seriously when the prophet is also a used-car salesman.

 

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