Prudence, providence, foresight, forethought, discretion are comparable when they denote a quality that enables a person to choose the wise and sensible course, especially in managing his practical affairs.
The same differences in implications and connotations are apparent in the corresponding adjectives prudent, provident, foresighted, forethoughtful, discreet. Prudence and prudent (see also WISE ), the most comprehensive of these words, imply both that one does not act rashly or unadvisedly and that one has foreseen the probable consequences of one’s act. Consequently the terms usually imply habitual caution and circumspection.
Providence and provident imply thought for the future, especially with reference to its difficulties and its needs and, usually, the provision in advance of what will then be required.
Foresight and foresighted stress a power, usually the result of a highly developed intelligence, of seeing what is likely to happen and of being prepared for it.
Forethought and the less frequent forethoughtful suggest due consideration of contingencies.
Discretion and discreet stress qualities (as good judgment, caution, and self-control) which make for prudence or compel prudent action; they often imply the power to restrain oneself when one is tempted to be temerarious, passionate, incensed, or loquacious.