Definition of portent in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpôrˌtent/


1A sign or warning that something, especially something momentous or calamitous, is likely to happen: they believed that wild birds in the house were portents of death JFK’s political debut was a portent of the fame to come
More example sentences
  • The artist began to feel a general unease as things that happened and things he saw seemed to be signs and portents of some great event.
  • Alec, despite his grounding in the rational science of making lots of money, is swayed by symbols and portents, seemingly mundane signs that he interprets superstitiously to be indicators of the path he is meant to pursue.
  • In general I do not think of myself as a particularly superstitious person, but then things like this happen and I realize I am constantly on the look out for signs and portents in the world around me.
omen, sign, signal, token, forewarning, warning, danger sign, foreshadowing, prediction, forecast, prophecy, harbinger, augury, auspice, presage;
writing on the wall, indication, hint
literary foretoken
1.1Future significance: an omen of grave portent for the tribe
More example sentences
  • A far more chilling episode, little remarked and with even graver portent for the future of the democratic process, occurred on November 12.
  • I cannot express strongly enough how horrified I am at what has happened and its evil and terrifying portent for the future.
  • It's birthday week so everything seems meaningful and full of portent.
significance, importance, import, consequence, meaning, weight
formal moment
2 archaic An exceptional or wonderful person or thing: what portent can be greater than a pious notary?


Late 16th century: from Latin portentum 'omen, token', from the verb portendere (see portend).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: por·tent

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