mid-14c. (c. 1200 as a surname), "intelligence; discretion, foresight; practical wisdom to see what is suitable or profitable;" also one of the four cardinal virtues, "wisdom to see what is virtuous;" from Old French prudence (13c.) and directly from Latin prudentia "a foreseeing, foresight, sagacity, practical judgment," contraction of providentia "foresight" (see providence, which is a doublet). The secondary sense of "knowledge, science" (late 14c.) is preserved in jurisprudence.
"involving or characterized by prudence," mid-15c., prudencial, from Medieval Latin prudentialis, from Latin prudentia "a foreseeing, foresight" (see prudence). Related: Prudentially.
Prudential, the U.S. insurance company, dates to the 1870s; its logo featuring the Rock of Gibraltar dates from c. 1900 and was widely known 20c. The Prudential of Great Britain is a different company, founded 1848 to provide loans to professional and working people, noted for its door-to-door agents ("the Man from the Pru").
Greek goddess personifying prudence, first wife of Zeus, from Greek Mētis, literally "advice, wisdom, counsel; cunning, skill, craft," from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure."
c. 1300, purveiaunce, "foresight, foreknowledge, prudence, wisdom" (senses now obsolete), from Anglo-French purveance and directly from Old French porveance, pourveance, from Latin providentia (see providence). From early 14c. as "that which is needed or provided," late 14c. as "act of providing or procuring what is necessary, preliminary arrangement."