( {sm}pr{rfa}v{shti}d{schwa}ns )  [a. F. providence (12th c. in Hatz.-Darm.), ad. L. pr{omac}vid{emac}ntia foresight, precaution, providence, f. pr{omac}vid{emac}re to PROVIDE : see -ENCE .] 

     {dag}1. The action of providing; provision, preparation, arrangement; chiefly in phrase to make providence , to make provision. Obs. exc. dial. In this sense, and in b, dial. also ( pr{schwa}{shtu}{sm}va{shti}d{schwa}ns ).

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1426 LYDG. De Guil. Pilgr. 8785 Yiff thow lyst maken prouydence Off any konnyng or scyence. 1432-50 tr. Higden (Rolls) VII. 115 God schalle make providence [of a king] after hym [ TREVISA God schal purveie, L. providebit Deus]. a1533 LD. BERNERS Gold. Bk. M. Aurel. (1546) Riijb, Sodeyn death came to the fathers, and no prouidence made for the doughters. 1547 Bk. Marchauntes evb, That they maye make suche prouidens and remedy that the vengeaunce of God do not fall on the poore peopel. 1878 Cumberland Gloss. , Providance, a providing of victuals, etc.

     {dag}b. That which is provided; a supply, a provision. Cf. PROVIDING vbl. n. b. Obs. exc. dial.

[1390] 1475 [1706] 1868
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[ 1390 Earl Derby's Exp. (Camden) 5 Expense pro providenciis contra viagium Prucie. ] 1475 Bk. Noblesse (Roxb.) 68 Yn every castelle..or towne he wolde hafe grete providence of vitaille, of cornys, of larde, and beoffes. [ 1706 PHILLIPS , Providentia, Providence... In some old Records, Provision of Meat or Drink. ] 1868 ATKINSON Cleveland Gloss. , Providance (with the i long), the matters or supply provided; to wit, the meat and other eatables for a burial entertainment; the cakes,..&c. for a tea-party.

     2. Foresight, prevision; esp. anticipation of and preparation for the future; ‘timely care’ (J.); hence, prudent or wise arrangement, management, government, or guidance. Also, an instance of this.

a1548 1622 1702 1867
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1382 WYCLIF Wisd. vi. 17 In his weis it shal shewe itself to them, and gladsumli in alle prouydence [gloss or bifore ordeynyng, 1611 in every thought, R.V. purpose], it shal a{ygh}en come to them. 1390 GOWER Conf. I. 203 He made Edwyn his lieutenant,..and thus be providence Of alle thinges wel begon He tok his leve. 1470-85 MALORY Arthur I. vi. 43 The Archebisshop..by Merlyns prouydence lete purueye thenne of the best knyghtes that they myghte gete. a1548 HALL Chron., Edw. IV 189b, In compassyng and bryngyng greate thynges to passe, there lacked no industrie, nor prouidence. 1622 BACON Hist. Gt. Brit. Wks. 1879 I. 796/1 In this matter the providence of king Henry the seventh was in all men's mouths. 1702 Eng. Theophrast. 379 This is not to exclude that providence of tracing premisses into consequences and causes into their effects. 1867 MAURICE Patriarchs & Lawg. vi. (1877) 134 The creature who bears His image is intended to exercise providence.

     b. Regard to future needs in the management of resources; foreseeing economy, thrift, frugality.

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1608 HEYWOOD Rape Lucrece III. v. Wks. 1874 V. 209 We must be carefull, and with providence Guide his domestick businesse. 1620 E. BLOUNT Horæ Subs. 105 They that spend more then they haue, want gouernment: they that spend all, Prouidence. 1848 MILL Pol. Econ. I. xiii. §1 (1876) 117/2 [It] renders the increase of production no longer exclusively dependent on the thrift or providence of the inhabitants themselves. 1857 RUSKIN Pol. Econ. Art 8 When there should have been providence there has been waste. 1885 LD. PEMBROKE in Pall Mall G. 23 May 2/1 The providence which is all that is necessary in a rich country like ours to bring material prosperity to the labouring class.

     3. In full, providence of God (etc.), divine providence : The foreknowing and beneficent care and government of God (or of nature, etc.); divine direction, control, or guidance.

1727 1854
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13.. St. Erkenwolde 161 in Horstm. Altengl. Leg. (1881) 269 {Th}e prouidens of {th}e prince {th}at paradis weldes. 1382 WYCLIF Wisd. xiv. 3 Thou, fader, governest bi prouydence [Gr. {pi}{rho}{goacu}{nu}{omicron}{iota}{alpha}, 1388 puruyaunce]. c1400 Three Kings Cologne 35 Almy{ygh}ty god, whos prouidence in hys ordinaunce faile{th} no{ygh}t. 1483 CAXTON Gold. Leg. 121/2 He was in hys chyldhode sette to studye whereby dyuyne prouydence he floured in double science. 1553 T. WILSON Rhet. (1580) 57 Nature by her prouidence, mindeth vnto vs a certaine immortalitie. 1587 GOLDING De Mornay ix. (1592) 132 What else is Prouidence, than the will of God vttered foorth with Reason, and orderly disposed by vnderstanding? 1632 LITHGOW Trav. x. 471 Thy Bookes..are miraculously Translated by her [i.e. the Virgin Mary's] speciall prouidence. 1676 W. HUBBARD Happiness of People 36 Creation and providence are the issues of the same Being and Power. 1727 DE FOE Hist. Appar. iv. (1840) 38 Providence which is..the administration of heaven's government in the world. 1854 MILMAN Lat. Chr. III. vii. (1864) II. 150 That the ordinary providence of God gave place to a perpetual interposition of miraculous power.

     {dag}b. The lot assigned to one by Providence. Obs. nonce-use.

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a1661 FULLER Worthies, Camb. (1662) I. 152 Stephen de Fulborn..Going over into Ireland to seek his Providence (commonly nicknamed his fortune)..became..Bishop of Waterford.

     4. Hence applied to the Deity as exercising prescient and beneficent power and direction.

1704 1894
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1602 WARNER Alb. Eng. XIII. lxxviii. 321 Whom if yee Nature call (saith One) yee call him not amis... Or Prouidence, whose acting power doth all begin and end. 1691 NORRIS Pract. Disc. 219 No Man is too little and despicable for the notice of Providence, however he may be overlook'd by his Fellow-Creatures. 1704 DE FOE in 15th Rep. Hist. MSS. Comm. App. IV. 88 What Providence has reserved for me he only knows. 1842 ALISON Hist. Europe lxxviii. X. 1013 Moreau expressed a fact of general application, explained according to the irreligious ideas of the French Revolution, when he said, that ‘Providence was always on the side of dense battalions’. 1894 BARING-GOULD Queen of L. II. 59, I am not one to fly in the face of Providence.

     b. transf. A person who acts or appears in the character of Providence. colloq.

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1856 EMERSON Eng. Traits, Aristocr. Wks. (Bohn) II. 86 ‘They might be little Providences on earth’, said my friend, ‘and they are, for the most part, jockeys and fops’. 1886 P. ROBINSON Valley Teet. Trees 28 Man is the Providence of the goose and..it is well that we should..generously condescend to sympathy with it. 1895 Daily News 30 May 6/5 The Providence of the officers who were sent to stay at St. Petersburg was Mlle. Georges.

     5. An instance or act of divine intervention; an event or circumstance which indicates divine dispensation. special providence , a particular act of direct divine intervention.

1719 1871
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1643 [ ANGIER ] Lancash. Valley of Achor 1 Gods eternall Counsells..are in time turned into..Prayers, Prayers into Providences, and Providences into Praises. 1651 MRQ. ORMONDE in Nicholas Papers (Camden) I. 279 The King being by an eminent and high providence escaped the bloody hands of the Rebells is arived at Paris. 1719 DE FOE Crusoe I. x. 175 How can he sweeten the bitterest providences! 1861 PEARSON Early & Mid. Ages Eng. 233 Here the event would no doubt be classed by some modern religionists under the head of special providences. 1871 TYNDALL Fragm. Sc. (1879) II. ii. 11 The miracle of the Thundering Legion was a special providence.

     b. Applied esp. to a disastrous accident, or fatality, regarded as an act of God. Obs. or dial.

1740 1814
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1740 WESLEY Wks. (1872) I. 290, I was informed of an awful providence. 1809 KENDALL Trav. lxxxv. III. 292 The phrase a providence..in New England..appears to be more frequently used for that which is disastrous but which is at the same time to be regarded and submitted to as the act of God. 1814 Connecticut Courant 1 Mar. 3/2 Distressing Providence.{em}On Wednesday last as John N. Olcott..was scating on Connecticut river..he..broke in and drowned.

     Hence {sm}providence v. trans. nonce-wd., to act the part of Providence towards; to be a providence to.

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1901 Pall Mall G. 28 May 4/1 She grew up in an obscure country parsonage..providenced by a high-minded..father.