Forewarned is Forearmed – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Have you seen the phrase ‘forewarned is forearmed’ somewhere and would like to know more about the context of the saying? ‘Forewarned is forearmed’ is a common expression in English that refers to preparation or prevention of something. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this saying.


The phrase ‘forewarned is forearmed’ is a common English saying that means being warned or cautioned about something before it happens can be the best form of preparation.

If someone says ‘forewarned is forearmed’ then they are saying an equivalent expression to the English phrase ‘prevention is better than cure’ in meaning.

Someone who is ‘forewarned’ is thus aware of something, usually something with negative consequences, ahead of time.

The phrase implies advanced preparation: that someone has prepared for something, or that someone is supposed to prepare for something.

The phrase ‘forewarned is forearmed’ is almost never used in the denial form, as this is unnecessary for a valid saying. Someone can still say ‘not forwarned and/or forearmed’ to render a valid phrase.

The context of the phrase is most often specified by the speaker, or taken from what has already been said as part of the discussion.

Example Usage

“Take at least three extra bottles of water if you’re going on a hiking trip, and make sure that your GPS is going to work while you’re there. Forewarned is forearmed, and you don’t want to be the next rescue headline in the news.”

“Make sure that you check the weather report for the next day before you go a weekend trip anywhere. Forewarned is forearmed, and at least you’ll know what to pack in.”

“Forewarned is forearmed, and you should never think that a crowd of toddlers won’t bite you just because they’re kids. Remember to wear thicker shoes so that you can kick them around if they get nasty.”

“Hey, if forewarned is forearmed, why didn’t my dad just wear a condom when he met my mother? That would have saved everyone a whole lot of trouble.”


The phrase ‘forewarned is forearmed’ is a common Engish expression, but the origin of the phrase does not come from this – but instead, it originates from Latin as a direct translation of a proverb that was already famous in Latin-speaking times.

‘Forewarned is forearmed’ is translated from the Latin phrase ‘praemonitus, praemunitus’ as a direct saying.

As an English phrase, early use seems to have come from the 1600s and spread at a rapid rate thanks to its inclusion in texts of the time.

The phrase would rise in popularity during the 1920s when home reference books became a more common phenomenon in the United States.

Use of the phrase would continue throughout modern times, with the Latin origin of the phrase almost forgotten when most people use or see the phrase.

The phrase is not listed on the website Urban Dictionary as of 2022.

Phrases Similar to Forewarned is Forearmed

  • Prevention is better than cure

Phrases Opposite to Forewarned is Forearmed

  • N/a

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Forewarned is forearmed

Ways People May Say Forewarned is Forearmed Incorrectly

There are several ways in which someone can use the phrase ‘forewarned is forearmed’ in the wrong way, or misunderstand the meaning of the phrase.

The most common way to misuse the phrase is to spell any of the words as hyphenated or separate (e.g. fore-warned or fore warned), because this is not correct use.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Forewarned is Forearmed

There are several ways in which someone can use the phrase ‘forewarned is forearmed’, including as a statement or as confirmation of what someone else has said in conversation.

Someone can also use the phrase to say ‘forewarned and forearmed’ in conversation.

The phrase is not commonly used in the denial form (e.g. ‘not forewarned or forearmed’), but this can still render a valid phrase.

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