Simple Definition of portend
: to be a sign or warning that something usually bad or unpleasant is going to happen
Examples of portend in a sentence
The distant thunder portended a storm.
If you're superstitious, a black cat portends trouble.
Did You Know?
Portend has been used in English in the context of signs of things to come since the 15th century. The word derives from the Latin verb portendere, which means "to predict or foretell." That verb, in turn, developed as a combination of the prefix por- (meaning "forward") and the verb "tendere" (meaning "to stretch"). So you can think of "portend" as having a literal meaning of "stretching forward to predict." Additional descendants of "tendere" include "extend," "tendon," and "tension," among others.
PORTEND Defined for Kids
Definition of portend for Students
: to give a sign or warning of beforehand <Distant thunder portended a storm.>
Seen and Heard
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