Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To furnish; supply: provide food and shelter for a family.
  • transitive v. To make available; afford: a room that provides ample sunlight through French windows.
  • transitive v. To set down as a stipulation: an agreement that provides deadlines for completion of the work.
  • transitive v. Archaic To make ready ahead of time; prepare.
  • intransitive v. To take measures in preparation: provided for the common defense of the states in time of war.
  • intransitive v. To supply means of subsistence: She provides for her family by working in a hospital.
  • intransitive v. To make a stipulation or condition: The Constitution provides for a bicameral legislature.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To make a living; earn money for necessities.
  • v. To act to prepare for something.
  • v. To determine the form of some situations, by means of a stipulation or condition.
  • v. To give what is needed or desired, especially basic needs.
  • v. To furnish with, cause to be present.
  • v. To make possible or attainable.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To look out for in advance; to procure beforehand; to get, collect, or make ready for future use; to prepare.
  • transitive v. To supply; to afford; to contribute.
  • transitive v. To furnish; to supply; -- formerly followed by of, now by with.
  • transitive v. To establish as a previous condition; to stipulate.
  • transitive v. To foresee.
  • transitive v. To appoint to an ecclesiastical benefice before it is vacant. See Provisor.
  • intransitive v. To procure supplies or means in advance; to take measures beforehand in view of an expected or a possible future need, especially a danger or an evil; -- followed by against or for
  • intransitive v. To stipulate previously; to condition.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To foresee; look forward to.
  • To procure beforehand; get, collect, or make ready for future use; prepare.
  • To furnish; supply: now often followed by with, but formerly also by of.
  • To make ready; prepare.
  • To make or lay down as a previous arrangement, guaranty, or provision; make a previous condition, supposition, or understanding: as, the agreement provides that the party shall incur no loss.
  • Eccles., to grant the right to be in future presented to a benefice which is not vacant at the time of the grant. See provision, 8.
  • To procure or furnish supplies, means of defense, or the like: as, to provide liberally for the table.
  • To take measures for counteracting or escaping something: often followed by against or for.
  • To make ready; prepare.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. make a possibility or provide opportunity for; permit to be attainable or cause to remain
  • v. determine (what is to happen in certain contingencies), especially by including a proviso condition or stipulation
  • v. give what is desired or needed, especially support, food or sustenance
  • v. take measures in preparation for
  • v. give something useful or necessary to
  • v. supply means of subsistence; earn a living
  • v. mount or put up

Etymologies

Middle English providen, from Latin prōvidēre, to provide for : prō-, forward; see pro-1 + vidēre, to see; see weid- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin prōvideō ("foresee, act with foresight"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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