Definition of precocious in US English:



  • 1(of a child) having developed certain abilities or proclivities at an earlier age than usual.

    ‘he was a precocious, solitary boy’
    • ‘There's still something of the precocious child about him.’
    • ‘She was a precocious child, it would seem, and already demonstrating where her adult interests would come to lie.’
    • ‘As a boy, Freud was intellectually precocious and an extremely hard worker.’
    • ‘If I had my way I'd ban the most precocious kids from reading anything but Enid Blyton.’
    • ‘A precocious composer (his earliest anthems date from c. 1663), he was sent to France and Italy about 1664 to study the latest fashions in music.’
    • ‘The point is made early on that Daniel is an intellectually precocious child.’
    • ‘As a precocious teenager, and now as a student, Millie has always shared her wild lifestyle with Jamie.’
    • ‘A precocious child, he read voraciously and soon revealed an extraordinary aptitude for languages.’
    advanced, old beyond one's years, forward, ahead of one's peers, mature, prematurely developed, ahead, gifted, talented, clever, intelligent, quick
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    1. 1.1 (of behavior or ability) indicative of early development.
      ‘a precocious talent for computing’
      • ‘When you realise how precocious was the talent of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, you can only pray he was a nice kid.’
      • ‘As a child growing up in Moray, Caledonian Thistle's manager was nicknamed Pele because of the precocious talent which saw him signed by Manchester United as a 15-year-old.’
      • ‘His talent was as precocious as his future partner's, and back in America he would perform at children's parties and at his father's academic gatherings.’
      • ‘His precocious ability recognised, he would go on to win the same scholarship held by Daniel Barenboim and Itzhak Perlman and to play at the Carnegie Hall.’
      • ‘Professor Frerichs recognized the precocious talent of this newcomer and encouraged Ehrlich's pursuit of histology and chemistry.’
      • ‘Any display of precocious talent - or even average ability - mysteriously finds its way into every conversation.’
      • ‘He is an absolutely precocious talent, and as nice a person as I could wish to be associated with.’
      • ‘He seems to have been aware of this from adolescence: certainly from the time when, in his early twenties, he lived and worked in Rome under the patronage of a bevy of cardinals who admired his precocious talents.’
      • ‘Outfield players, especially, must be nurtured almost full-time from the first inkling of any precocious ability.’
      • ‘Of the two latest biographers, it is Nicholas Roe, a professor of English at St Andrews University, who writes most expansively about the poet's ancestry and precocious development as a poet.’
      • ‘A precocious talent, he joined New York City Ballet aged 16 and after a season with Zurich Ballet returned as soloist, becoming principal in 1995.’
      • ‘Although he's initially terrified at the prospect of being a father, Angela soon has a calming effect on him, despite her precocious, junk food-fuelled behaviour.’
      • ‘Neil Tarrant, on loan from Aston Villa, has provided the impetus with his precocious ability to score important goals.’
      • ‘Olivier Messiaen was born in Avignon, France in 1908 into a highly scholarly family and showed precocious musical talent.’
      • ‘The 27-year-old grew up in bleak times for Scottish sport, when there was neither the political will nor the financial support to nurture precocious talent.’
    2. 1.2 (of a plant) flowering or fruiting earlier than usual.
      • ‘In cold-winter climates, prune precocious magnolias in summer after they've bloomed.’
      • ‘The vine is a precocious one, budding, flowering, and ripening early, which makes it prone to spring frosts but means that it can flourish in regions as cool as much of the Loire.’
      • ‘Callery pears are precocious, having a very short juvenile period, and flower as early as 3 years old.’


Mid 17th century: from Latin praecox, praecoc- (from praecoquere ‘ripen fully’, from prae ‘before’ + coquere ‘to cook’) + -ious.