Definition of read the runes in English:

read the runes

British Try to forecast the outcome of a situation by analysing all the significant factors involved: the Chancellor read the runes and introduced additional tax measures
More example sentences
  • The MacTaggart Lecture is the opening event when a senior figure in broadcasting reads the runes.
  • Politicians and diplomats on both sides have also been reading the runes, and while each side has claimed a victory of sorts there is little doubt the advantage has slipped Washington's way.
  • And, for as long as they prefer a conjuror's wand to a handset, they will have to go on reading the runes to detect much of an impact, for IT, on productivity.
See parent entry: rune

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cause (someone) to lose confidence or hope