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Middle English, from Latin prodigium omen, monster, from pro-, prod- + -igium (akin to aio I say) — more at adage Date: 15th century


  • 1 a : a portentous event : omen
b : something extraordinary or inexplicable
  • 2 a : an extraordinary, marvelous, or unusual accomplishment, deed, or event
b : a highly talented child or youth
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A child prodigy is someone who at an early age masters one or more skills at an adult level. One heuristic for classifying prodigies is: a prodigy is a child, typically younger than 15 years old, who is performing at the level of a highly trained adult in a very demanding field of endeavor. The giftedness of child prodigies is determined by the degree of their talent relative to their ages. Examples of particularly extreme child prodigies would include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in music, Judit Polgár in chess, Carl Friedrich Gauss and John von Neumann in mathematics, Pablo Picasso in art, and Saul Kripke in philosophy. There is controversy as to at what age and standard to use in the definition of a prodigy. The term Wunderkind (from German: "miracle child" or "wonder child") is sometimes used as a synonym for prodigy, particularly in media accounts, although this term is discouraged in scientific literature. Wunderkind also is used to recognize those who achieve success and acclaim 'early' in their adult careers, such as Steven Spielberg, Steve Jobs, and Fred Goodwin.[1]