Adjective > Clairvoyant

Adjective – Clairvoyant

We took this word from French, where it means “clear-sighted.” If you trace that French word back to its Latin roots, you’ll see how it ultimately comes from the Latin clarus (“clear, or loud“) and videre (“to see“).

If you refer to people as clairvoyant, whether you’re being serious, imaginative, or hyperbolic, you mean that they’re psychic: that they can “see” things with superhuman clarity, like what will happen in the future, what others are thinking, or what’s happening in faraway places.

clair VOY yunt

Part of speech:
Most often an adjective: “she’s clairvoyant,” “her powers are clairvoyant.”
Also a noun, meaning the person with the superhuman mental powers: “she’s a clairvoyant,” “the story centers on these teenage clairvoyants.”

Other forms:
clairvoyance, clairvoyantly

How to use it:
Clairvoyant” is a useful word for talking about fiction: “River’s clairvoyant powers save the crew from reavers.” “The Volturi envy the Cullen family for their clairvoyance: Edward reads minds; Alice glimpses the future.”

It’s also great for general exaggeration: “This professor’s instructions are so vague, I’d have to be clairvoyant to know what he wants.”

And, unfortunately, we need the word “clairvoyant” to talk about the entire industry of people who claim to predict the future, communicate with the dead, “see” the resolution to an unsolved crime, etc. “Most people who charge for their clairvoyant services are truly convinced of their own powers.”

John Oliver warned about the danger of lending legitimacy to people with self-proclaimed clairvoyant powers. “Every time a psychic makes a grieving widow cry on Dr. Oz, ten con artists get their wings.”

Helping the public learn to dismiss unproven claims, the James Randi Educational Foundation operates a program that they call the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge. The challenge invites clairvoyants to prove their powers under controlled conditions. So far, none have.