adjective por·ten·tous \pr-ˈten-təs\

: giving a sign or warning that something usually bad or unpleasant is going to happen

: trying to seem important, serious, or impressive

Full Definition of PORTENTOUS

:  of, relating to, or constituting a portent <suspense, portentous foreshadowing, hints of sinister and violent mysteries — Francine Prose>
:  eliciting amazement or wonder :  prodigious
a :  being a grave or serious matter <portentous decisions>
b :  self-consciously solemn or important :  pompous <portentous declamation unsalted by the least trace of humor — W. H. Pritchard>
c :  ponderously excessive <that discipline's overwrought, portentous phrases — R. M. Coles>
por·ten·tous·ly adverb
por·ten·tous·ness noun

Examples of PORTENTOUS

  1. <an eerie and portentous stillness hung over the camp the night before the battle>
  2. <in 1969 people regarded the first landing on the moon as a truly portentous event>

First Known Use of PORTENTOUS

15th century

Synonym Discussion of PORTENTOUS

ominous, portentous, fateful mean having a menacing or threatening aspect. ominous implies having a menacing, alarming character foreshadowing evil or disaster <ominous rumblings from the volcano>. portentous suggests being frighteningly big or impressive but now seldom definitely connotes forewarning of calamity <an eerie and portentous stillness>. fateful suggests being of momentous or decisive importance <the fateful conference that led to war>.

Other Occult Terms

augury, censor, invocation, lucidity, metempsychosis, mojo, numinous, preternatural, weird, wraith

Rhymes with PORTENTOUS

PORTENTOUS Defined for Kids


adjective por·ten·tous \pr-ˈten-təs\

Definition of PORTENTOUS for Kids

:  giving a sign or warning of something usually bad that is going to happen <a portentous dream>


Next Word in the Dictionary: porteous rollPrevious Word in the Dictionary: portentiveAll Words Near: portentous
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears