envisage, envision
1. Envisage is an early 19c loanword from French, meaning at first ‘to look in the face of’ and then (its current meaning) ‘to have a mental picture of (something yet to happen)’. Fowler (1926) dismissed it as an ‘undesirable Gallicism’ and recommended as alternatives the words face, confront, contemplate, recognize, realize, view, and regard. Gowers (1965) added imagine, intend, and visualize to the list of words for which envisage was ‘a pretentious substitute’. None of these will always quite serve, however, and only some of them can be substituted for envisage in its common construction followed by a verbal noun (We do not envisage leaving just yet).
2. Neither Fowler not Gowers noticed the arrival, first in Britain (1921) and then more assertively in America, of the closely synonymous word envision, meaning ‘to see or foresee as in a vision’. The evidence of current use shows that envision is strongly favoured in AmE and envisage in BrE, but the division is not absolute and envision is becoming more common in BrE. Examples: (envisage)

• The best scenario…that we can envisage is one in which all those who want to do formal work will have an opportunity of doing two or three days a week —Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, 1980

• So mother envisaged us all here, gathered round staring down in this ghastly way —Penelope Lively, 1989

• Smith does not envisage bringing in a replacement —Times, 2006

• I did not envisage it would get as bad as this —Independent, 2006

• (envision) His blackest hypochondria had never envisioned quite so miserable a Catastrophe —Lytton Strachey, 1921

• They envision themselves wearing berets…and crawling about the rubble, throwing Molotov cocktails —Melody Maker, 1968

• It may be only the stuff of newspaper editorials, of course, to envision a strategy in which the United Nations takes decisive action —Sunday Times, 1990

• The Hubble was working as envisioned —weblog, CanE 2005.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Envisage — En*vis age (?; 48), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Envisaged} (?; 48); p. pr. & vb. n. {Envisaging}.] [F. envisager; pref. en (L. in) + visage face, visage. See {Visage}.] To look in the face of; to apprehend; to regard. [R.] Keats. [1913 Webster] From the …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • envisagé — envisagé, ée (an vi za jé, jée) part. passé. 1°   Regardé au visage. Envisagé par l agent de police et aussitôt reconnu. 2°   Regardé en esprit. Des périls envisagés avec sang froid …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • envisage — index compose, conceive (comprehend), conjure, invent (produce for the first time) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • envisage — 1778, from Fr. envisager look in the face of, from en cause to (see EN (Cf. en ) (1)) + visage face (see VISAGE (Cf. visage)). Related: Envisaged; envisaging …   Etymology dictionary

  • envisage — envisage, envision conceive, imagine, *think, realize, fancy Analogous words: view, behold, survey, contemplate (see SEE): objectify, externalize, materialize, *realize …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • envisage — / envision [v] picture in one’s mind anticipate, behold, conceive, conceptualize, contemplate, externalize, fancy, feature, foresee, form mental picture of*, grasp, have a picture of*, image, imagine, look upon, materialize, objectify, predict,… …   New thesaurus

  • envisagé — Envisagé, [envisag]ée. part. pass …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • envisage — ► VERB 1) regard or conceive of as a possibility. 2) form a mental picture of. ORIGIN French envisager, from visage face …   English terms dictionary

  • envisage — [en viz′ij, inviz′ij] vt. envisaged, envisaging [Fr envisager: see EN 1 & VISAGE] 1. Rare to face; confront 2. to form an image of in the mind; visualize; imagine …   English World dictionary

  • envisage */*/ — UK [ɪnˈvɪzɪdʒ] / US verb [transitive] Word forms envisage : present tense I/you/we/they envisage he/she/it envisages present participle envisaging past tense envisaged past participle envisaged a) to have something as a plan or an intention The… …   English dictionary

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