late 14c., "foresight, prudent anticipation," from Old French providence "divine providence, foresight" (12c.) and directly from Latin providentia "foresight, precaution, foreknowledge," from providentem (nominative providens), present participle of providere (see provide).
Providence (usually capitalized) "God as beneficent caretaker," first recorded c.1600, from earlier use of the word for "God's beneficient care or guidance" (14c.), short for divine providence, etc. The noun in Latin occasionally had a similar sense.