1580s, 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"). In 17c. also as a noun, "spy glass, telescope." Related: Prospectively.
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