be·​to·​ken bi-ˈtō-kən How to pronounce betoken (audio)
betokened; betokening bi-ˈtōk-niŋ How to pronounce betoken (audio)

transitive verb

: to typify beforehand : presage
: to give evidence of : show

Examples of betoken in a Sentence

the humor in his writing is never cruel, and betokens a warm and compassionate heart
Recent Examples on the Web Ted Kennedy’s 31% in Iowa and 37% in New Hampshire in 1980 betokened a long and bitter campaign for Jimmy Carter. Ross Douthat, The Mercury News, 17 Jan. 2024 While many stations have had their tiles replaced, the tiles at those two are original (dating from 1910 and 1906, respectively), betokened by their rich luster and fine cracks, like those seen in oil paintings. Andrew Martin, Travel + Leisure, 15 Jan. 2024 Organized at the Baltimore Museum of Art by curator Jessica Bell Brown, the show betokens long overdue attention to the still active 96-year-old Pittsburgh sculptor, as did a long Feb. 13 interview in The New York Times. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 26 May 2023 Too few, however, appreciate the birth, emergence and arrival of those remarkable organisms the insects, whose three pairs of legs, segmented bodies and exoskeletons betoken membership in what might be the most species-rich, profuse, and downright fascinating collection of living things. David P. Barash, WSJ, 8 Apr. 2021 The culture worker strikes also betoken something of a return to an earlier time of unionism. Alissa Quart, The New Republic, 29 Nov. 2022 Improbabilities compound and betoken a deeper murkiness in the novel’s vision. New York Times, 5 Apr. 2022 The European elections in May saw turnout rise for the first time ever, betokening the genuine Europeanisation of some political debates. The Economist, 17 Oct. 2019 Banks employ armies of people in back offices, looking for discrepancies that may betoken fraud or honest error. The Economist, 22 Mar. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'betoken.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of betoken was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near betoken

Cite this Entry

“Betoken.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


be·​to·​ken bi-ˈtō-kən How to pronounce betoken (audio)
betokened; betokening -ˈtōk-(ə-)niŋ How to pronounce betoken (audio)
: to be a sign of : indicate

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