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Forecast vs. Prediction: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on October 12, 2023
Forecast generally refers to a data-driven projection about future events, often subject to change based on updated information. Prediction is a more general statement about the future, not necessarily relying on data or subject to change.

Key Differences

Forecast is commonly used in the context of weather, economics, or any field where data can be collected and analyzed to make future projections. The term implies a level of scientific rigor and is usually based on existing data, analyzed through various models to project future occurrences. Prediction, on the other hand, is a more general term that can be used in any context to indicate an expectation about the future. It can be based on intuition, hypothesis, or even superstition, and doesn't necessarily have to be backed by data.
In terms of precision and reliability, a forecast is generally considered more accurate and credible as it is often based on scientific methods and existing data sets. Predictions can be accurate or wildly off the mark, depending on the basis for making them. When you say, "The forecast predicts rain tomorrow," you imply a data-based projection. Saying, "My prediction is it will rain tomorrow," doesn't necessarily imply the same level of rigor.
Grammatically, both forecast and prediction serve as nouns but can be used slightly differently in sentences. Forecast often goes hand-in-hand with terms like "data," "analysis," or "model," highlighting its empirical nature. Prediction, in contrast, is often accompanied by words like "guess," "believe," or "expect," emphasizing its more speculative nature.
In everyday language, the words forecast and prediction are often used interchangeably. However, in technical or scientific contexts, the distinction between them becomes more pronounced. A forecast in meteorology or finance is usually subject to updates as more data becomes available, whereas a prediction, such as a psychic’s view of the future, often remains fixed and unchanging.

Comparison Chart


Can be intuitive or data-based

Precision and Reliability

Generally more accurate

Grammatical Usage

Often accompanied by "data," "analysis," "model"
Often accompanied by "guess," "believe," "expect"

Subject to Change

Yes, as new data becomes available
Not necessarily


Often used in scientific, technical fields
Used more broadly

Forecast and Prediction Definitions


A data-driven projection about future events.
The weather forecast predicts sunny skies.


A statement about a future event, not necessarily data-based.
Her prediction about the election was accurate.


A calculated extrapolation based on current conditions.
The forecast suggests a high chance of rain.


An educated or intuitive guess about what will happen.
His prediction was based solely on instinct.


To estimate or predict in advance, especially to predict (weather conditions) by analysis of meteorological data.


An outcome anticipated by reasoning or conjecture.
My prediction is that they will win the championship.


To serve as an advance indication of; foreshadow
Price increases that forecast inflation.


A prophetic declaration about future events.
The psychic's prediction turned out to be false.


A prediction, as of coming events or conditions
The weather forecast stated that it would rain.


An expectation or hypothesis about future occurrences.
The scientist's prediction was confirmed through experiments.


To estimate how something will be in the future.
To forecast the weather, or a storm
To forecast a rise in prices


The act of predicting.


To foreshadow; to suggest something in advance.


Something foretold or predicted; a prophecy.


(obsolete) To contrive or plan beforehand.


A statement of what will happen in the future.


An estimation of a future condition.


(statistics) A probability estimation based on statistical methods.


A prediction of the weather.
What's the forecast for tomorrow?


The act of foretelling; also, that which is foretold; prophecy.
The predictions of cold and long winters.


(betting) exacta


The act of predicting (as by reasoning about the future)


To plan beforehand; to scheme; to project.
He shall forecast his devices against the strongholds.


A statement made about the future


To foresee; to calculate beforehand, so as to provide for; as, to forecast the weather; to forecast prices.
It is wisdom to consider the end of things before we embark, and to forecast consequences.


To contrive or plan beforehand.
If it happen as I did forecast.


Previous contrivance or determination; predetermination.
He makes this difference to arise from the forecast and predetermination of the gods themselves.


A calculation predicting future events; the foresight of consequences, and provision against them; prevision; premeditation; as, the weather forecast.
His calm, deliberate forecast better fitted him for the council than the camp.


A prediction about how something (as the weather) will develop


Predict in advance


Judge to be probable


Indicate by signs;
These signs bode bad news


An estimation of future trends in a specific area.
The economic forecast looks promising.


A scientific assessment of future conditions.
According to the forecast, snow is unlikely.


An informed guess rooted in analysis and data.
The sales forecast exceeded expectations.


Is a Forecast more accurate than a Prediction?

Generally, a forecast is considered more accurate as it's based on data.

What is a Forecast?

A forecast is a data-driven projection about future events.

Is a Forecast always correct?

No, forecasts can be updated as new data becomes available.

How are Forecasts usually presented?

Forecasts are often presented with percentages or probability measures.

Do Forecasts and Predictions serve the same purpose?

Both aim to anticipate future events, but forecasts are typically more data-oriented.

Can Predictions be tested?

Yes, predictions can be tested but they are not always based on data.

How are Predictions usually presented?

Predictions are often more qualitative, made without specific measures.

What is a Prediction?

A prediction is a general statement about future events.

How do Forecast and Prediction differ?

Forecast is data-driven and subject to change, while prediction is not necessarily so.

Can a Prediction be based on data?

Yes, but it is not necessarily always the case.

Do Predictions change over time?

Not necessarily; predictions can remain fixed.

What's the grammatical difference between the two?

Forecast often pairs with "data," "analysis," while prediction pairs with "guess," "believe."

Who usually makes Forecasts?

Experts in fields like meteorology, finance, and economics often make forecasts.

Do Forecasts change over time?

Yes, forecasts are often updated as new data is available.

Can Forecast and Prediction be used interchangeably?

In casual language, yes, but not in technical or scientific contexts.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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