fore·​bode (ˌ)fȯr-ˈbōd How to pronounce forebode (audio)
variants or less commonly forbode
foreboded also forboded; foreboding also forboding; forebodes also forbodes

transitive verb

: to have an inward conviction of (something, such as a coming ill or misfortune)
… she looked eagerly in his face, not quick to forebode evil, but unavoidably conscious that the state of the family had changed …Nathaniel Hawthorne
: foretell, portend
Such dark clouds forebode a storm.
foreboder noun

Examples of forebode in a Sentence

the dry summer doesn't forebode well for the harvest
Recent Examples on the Web Despite the difficulty, in some cases the stakes are so high—as with North Korea and its nuclear weapons—that armies will have no choice but to take the fight to what is often a vast, foreboding underworld. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 27 June 2023 There are foreboding close-ups on clock faces and their fast-changing digits. Erica Gonzales, ELLE, 23 June 2023 That Wells Fargo win, in May at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., had come against a foreboding list of rivals whose surnames — McIlroy and Spieth, Scott and Day — were bywords for golfing brilliance even before Clark finished college. Alan Blinder, New York Times, 19 June 2023 Among the Ukrainian troops, their work on these proving grounds appears to amplify a sense of confidence, rather than foreboding. Scott Peterson, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 May 2023 Featuring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh, the film delves into the unnerving tale of Marion Crane, a woman who finds herself at the foreboding Bates Motel. Travis Bean, Forbes, 6 May 2023 The melancholy tale of Rocket’s origins is so dark and foreboding that the comedy and vibrant spectacle of the rest of the film become a welcome respite. Vulture, 4 May 2023 Centennial Yards’s vast tract, now mostly foreboding parking lots, is adjacent to the Mercedes Benz Stadium, home to Atlanta’s professional football and soccer teams, and the State Farm Arena, where Ressler’s Hawks play. Eliza Ronalds-Hannon, Fortune, 24 Apr. 2023 Stars came twinkling into view, in a strangely foreboding sky. Natasha Frost, New York Times, 20 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'forebode.' 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

1603, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of forebode was in 1603

Dictionary Entries Near forebode

Cite this Entry

“Forebode.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


variants also forbode
: to have a feeling that something especially unfortunate is going to happen
: foretell, portend
the heavy air forebodes a storm
foreboder noun

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