early 15c., "act of looking into the distance, condition of facing something else or a certain direction," from Latin prospectus "distant view, look out; sight, faculty of sight," noun use of past participle of prospicere "look out on, look forward," from pro "forward" (see pro-) + specere "look at" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe").
The meaning "extensive view of the landscape, view of things within the reach of the eye" is from 1530s; transferred sense of "mental view or survey" is from 1620s. The meaning "that which is presented to the eye, scene" is from 1630s.
The sense of "person or thing considered promising" is from 1922, from the earlier sense of "expectation, ground of expectation," especially of advantage (1660s) on the notion of "looking forward," hence "anticipation." Hence prospects "things looked forward to." The meaning "a wide, long, straight street or avenue" is by 1866, in a Russian context, and thus often spelled prospekt.
"explore for gold or other minerals, examine land with a view to a mining claim," 1841, from prospect (n.) in specialized sense of "spot giving prospects of ore" (1832). Earlier in a now-obsolete sense of "look forth, look out over" (1550s), from Latin prospectare, frequentative of prospicere. Related: Prospected; prospecting.
also prospecter, 1846 in the mining sense of "one who searches for valuable minerals or ores as a preliminary to regular operations;" agent noun from prospect (v.).
"printed plan or sketch meant to make known the chief features of some proposed enterprise," 1765, from French prospectus (1723) and directly from Latin prospectus "a lookout, a view" (see prospect (n.)).
It forms all or part of: aspect; auspex; auspices; auspicious; bishop; circumspect; conspicuous; despicable; despise; episcopal; especial; espionage; espy; expect; frontispiece; gyroscope; haruspex; horoscope; inspect; inspection; inspector; introspect; introspection; perspective; perspicacious; perspicacity; prospect; prospective; respect; respite; retrospect; scope; -scope; scopophilia; -scopy; skeptic; species; specimen; specious; spectacle; spectacular; spectrum; speculate; speculation; speculum; spice; spy; suspect; suspicion; suspicious; telescope.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit spasati "sees;" Avestan spasyeiti "spies;" Greek skopein "behold, look, consider," skeptesthai "to look at," skopos "watcher, one who watches;" Latin specere "to look at;" Old High German spehhon "to spy," German spähen "to spy."
1580s, "characterized by looking to the future," from obsolete French prospectif and directly from Medieval Latin prospectivus "affording a prospect; pertaining to a prospect," from Latin prospect-, past-participle stem of prospicere "look out on, look forward," from pro "forward" (see pro-) + specere "look at" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe"). The sense of "being in prospect or expectation, looked forward to" is by 1829.
Also used as a noun in various senses: "outlook, prospect, view" (1590s); "spy glass, telescope" (17c.), from the adjectival sense of "suitable for viewing at a distance" (c. 1600). Related: Prospectively.
c. 1200, "lack of wisdom or knowledge," from Old French ignorance (12c.), from Latin ignorantia "want of knowledge" (see ignorant). Ignoration (1832) has been used in the sense "act of ignoring." The proverb, in the form "Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise", is from Gray's "Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College" (1742) .