Today, I mostly hear the word Providence either in reference to the capital of Rhode Island or in the religious sense, meaning "divine care". When the word was first recorded in the 1382 Wycliffe Bible (a book that shows up a lot in Middle English etymologies), it meant "foresight" and it only took on its ecclesiastical sense around the start of the seventeenth century, through the notion of God's foresight guiding people. The term comes from Latin providentia, which was formed from the verb providere, "to see ahead". Pro-, which meant "ahead" here, comes from the Proto-Indo-European root per-, meaning "before". Videre is the source of a lot of sight-related words, including voila, visage, visor, visible, visa, view, and much more. It comes from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction weid, also meaning "see".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.