Difference Between Forecast and Prediction

Forecast vs Prediction

The words, forecast and prediction are encountered frequently by people in newspapers and TV whether they are listening to news or opinions of experts about the movement in a stock market. These two words talk about what is going to happen in near or distant future, and are so similar in meaning that people often use them interchangeably, which is incorrect. This article tries to highlight the subtle differences between forecast and prediction to remove doubts in the minds of the readers.

Why is it always weather forecast for the next 7 or 10 days and not weather prediction? Why is it prediction based on an economic theory and not forecast? Those who seem to take part in exit polls make their predictions about party positions after election results are out. Astrologers make predictions of one’s future based on horoscope of that person, and this is certainly different from forecasting something with certainty (which is what world famous clairvoyant Nostradamus did). This they do beforehand based on exit polls. Is it a difference in usage or is there any deeper, subtle difference between the two related words? Let us take a closer look.


Prediction comes from Latin Pre meaning before and dicer meaning to say. Prediction is a statement that tells about a possible outcome. Opinion polls are conducted before an election, and predictions about the winner are made based on the results of these opinion polls. Predictions are risky in the sense that despite taking help from previous cases, they remain uncertain. Despite this uncertainty, companies and even governments take help of predictions made by experts and analysts, to undertake or reject certain projects. It is hard to predict about the success or failure of a newcomer in any field, be it sports or movies though there is no dearth of people making a claim of having known beforehand about the success of a star.


Telling or giving information about a future event, before it has taken place, comes in the category of forecast. Before the advent of modern scientific tools and equipments, experts foretold about the likelihood of an earthquake based on abnormal animal and bird behavior, which was unscientific and closer to prediction. However, forecasting today is much more scientific and analytical with a far greater accuracy than at any time in the past. Forecasting makes use of scientific principles and allows error analysis. Forecast of weather is, therefore, accurate up to 90%.


What is the difference between Forecast and Prediction?

• Forecast is scientific and free from intuition and personal bias, whereas prediction is subjective and fatalistic in nature.

• Forecasting is an extrapolation of past into the future while prediction is judgmental and takes into account changes taking place in the future. Therefore, prediction is utilized more in business and economics while forecasting takes place in weather and earthquakes.

• Predicting is saying or telling something before the event while forecasting is done on the basis of analysis of the past.

• Forecasting is still not a complete science as there are chances of error.