A futurist is someone who sees the handwriting on the wall but reaches for a pencil to end the sentence with ellipses . . .

More dot-writers are at work than ever before, from architects designing foam-dome homes to ethicians thinking that today's genetic breakthrough may be tomorrow's moral breakdown.

Buckminster Fuller, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Alvin Toffler and Isaac Asimov are among the best-known of the current futurists. But much of the day-to-day work of the movement is carried out by such grounded leaders as Edward Cornish, president of the World Future Society, 4916 St. Elmo Ave., Bethesda, Md. 20814. He is also editor of the highly regarded bimonthly magazine The Futurist.

Cornish and the World Future Society sponsored in July, 1980, the third international assembly of futurists in Toronto, an event which drew 5,400 participants from 45 countries. This July, the group's Fourth General Assembly will meet in Washington.

Among speakers scheduled are Rep. Charlie Rose (D--N.C.), founder of the Congressional Clearinghouse on the Future; Victor Ferkiss, professor of government at Georgetown University and author of "The Future of Technological Civilization"; Marylin Ferguson, editor-publisher of The Brain-Mind Bulletin and author of "The Aquarian Conspiracy."

Meanwhile, students of forward thinking look ahead to the day when they will agree on one term to define their activity. Among the choices so far: futuristics, futurology, futurics, futuribles and futures analysis.