What Does Forewarned is Forearmed Mean?

Forewarned if Forearmed Meaning

Definition: Advanced knowledge allows for advanced preparation; knowing about potential problems makes it possible to prepare for them.

Origin of Forewarned is Forearmed

The verb forearm means to arm oneself with weapons in advance. This verb is no longer common outside of this idiom.

There is a similar expression in Latin:

  • Praemonitus, praemunitus.

Some say that this Latin phrase was adopted into English. Other say that it is possible the English expression developed independently.

In any event, the English expression first appeared in the 1500s. Shakespeare used a similar expression in Henry VI, Part 3:

  • I will arm me, being thus forewarn’d.

In Robert Greene’s A Notable Discovery of Coosnage (1592), we see something more resembling the modern phrasing.

  • Forewarned, forearmed: burnt children dread the fire.

Examples of Forewarned is Forearmed

to be forewarned is to be forearmed In this example, two sisters are talking to each other about a surprise visit from their parents.

Amy: So, I just thought I would warn you about something.

Kimberly: What is it?

Amy: I was talking to Mom on the phone last night, and she implied that she would be stopping by to visit us later this week.

Kimberly: Really? Do you know when?

Amy: No, she didn’t say exactly. But since I know she’ll be coming, I plan on cleaning up the house a little to make sure she has nothing to complain about.

Kimberly: Well, thanks for letting me know. Forewarned is forearmed. Now I can prepare for her visit.

forewarned is forearmed latin In the second example, two friends are discussing all the things they should bring with them on their camping trip.

Keira: Okay, here is all the stuff I’m bringing. Where’s your stuff?

Rory: What do you mean? All my stuff is here, in my backpack.

Keira: What are you talking about? Where’s your tent, your food, your tarp in case it rains?

Rory: I didn’t think I’d need all that.

Keira: Well, I’m telling you now, you need to be prepared for all sorts of inclement weather, and you need to have food and a means to cook it. Listen, forewarned is forearmed. I’m warning you about this now so that you can be equipped to handle any problems that might arise.

Jane: Thanks for telling me all this! Will you help me buy the stuff I need?

Keira: of course!

More Examples

This excerpt uses the expression in a subtitle. The section is about immigrants being aware of what to do if they are targeted for deportation.

  • For Immigrants, Forewarned Is Forearmed. Remain calm. Talk to a lawyer now. Know your rights. That’s the message immigrant advocates are trying to convey to those living in the U.S. illegally, and they’re using an array of methods to get the word out — whether it’s setting up hotlines, holding televised town hall meetings or showing a video that explains what to do when ICE comes calling. –LA Times

This excerpt uses the expression to start a list of cyberthreats.

  • Continuing on that theme, 2017 will bring dramatic events in cybersecurity. Forewarned is forearmed, so here goes:… –USA Today


The expression forewarned is forearmed is a proverb that explains the importance and tactical advantage one gains when having prior knowledge of an event.