early 15c., providen, "make provision for the future; arrange, plan; take care, relieve of needs, supply the needs of," from Latin providere "look ahead, prepare, supply, act with foresight," from pro "ahead" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward") + videre "to see" (from PIE root *weid- "to see"). Related: Provided; providing. Earlier in same sense was its doublet purvey, which is from the same Latin verb, deformed in Old French (pourvoir).
No memory of having starred
Atones for later disregard,
Or keeps the end from being hard.
Better to go down dignified
With boughten friendship at your side
Than none at all. Provide, provide!
[Robert Frost, from "Provide, Provide"]
"with or on condition that; this (or it) being understood, conceded, or established," early 15c., conjunction use of past participle of provide. As an adjective, "destined" (early 15c.); "prepared, ready" (1570s); "furnished" (1878).
c. 1400, "prudent, foreseeing wants and making provision to supply them," from Old French provident and directly from Latin providentem (nominative providens) "foreseeing, prudent," present participle of providere "to foresee" (see provide). By 1590s as "frugal, economical."
also providore, "one who provides necessities and supplies," 1570s, from Portuguese provedor, Spanish proveedor "a provider, purveyor," perhaps via Venetian dialect, from an agent noun from verbs rooted in Latin providere (see provide). English also had the word in a now-obsolete form proveditor (1580s), from Italian proveditore.
"a clause making what precedes conditional on what follows, a stipulation, a special exception to the general terms of a legislative act," mid-15c., from Medieval Latin proviso (quod) "provided (that)," the original Latin wording of the usual phrase at the beginning of clauses in legal documents (mid-14c.), from Latin proviso "it being provided," ablative neuter of provisus, past participle of providere (see provide). Related: Provisory.
c. 1300, purveien, "make previous arrangements," also "think beforehand, consider" (senses now obsolete); early 14c. as "prepare (something), make (something) ready;" late 14c. as "provide, supply (a necessity), furnish (what is needed)," from Anglo-French porveire, purveire and directly from Old French porveoir "to provide, prepare, arrange" (Modern French pourvoir), from Latin providere "look ahead, prepare, supply, act with foresight," from pro "ahead" (see pro-) + videre "to see" (from PIE root *weid- "to see"). Compare provide, which now usually replaces it. Related: Purveyed; purveying.
late 14c., provisioun, "foresight, prudence, care;" also "a providing beforehand, action of arranging in advance" (at first often in reference to ecclesiastical appointments made before the position was vacant), from Old French provision "precaution, care" (early 14c.), from Latin provisionem (nominative provisio) "a foreseeing, foresight, preparation, prevention," noun of action from past-participle stem of providere "look ahead" (see provide).
The meaning "something provided, supply of necessary things" is attested from mid-15c.; specific sense of "supply of food" (provisions) is by c. 1600. In law, "a stipulation, a distinct clause in a statute, etc.; a rule or principle," late 15c. A provision-car (by 1864) was a railroad car with refrigeration for preserving perishable products during transportation.