por·​tent | \ ˈpȯr-ˌtent How to pronounce portent (audio) \

Definition of portent

1 : something that foreshadows a coming event : omen, sign
2 : prophetic indication or significance

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Examples of portent in a Sentence

a red sky in the morning can be a portent of a coming storm a scout was sent to have a look at this teenage pitcher who was supposed to be the latest portent of the baseball world
Recent Examples on the Web For Lovell, grabbing an earlier mission was all upside—and as for the unlucky portent of a mission numbered 13? Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "NASA Saw Apollo 13 as a Fiasco. 50 Years Later, Astronaut Jim Lovell Has Made Peace With the 'Successful Failure'," 10 Apr. 2020 If nothing else, Armageddon is a crucial cultural artifact: a portent of American culture’s jingoism in the 2000s, when blockbuster action sequences had the tone and tenor of Budweiser commercials. David Sims, The Atlantic, "30 Underrated Films You Should Revisit," 10 Apr. 2020 From those countries, the view remained almost unrelentingly grim, a frightening portent even for places like New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, where trucks have been fork-lifting bodies outside overflowing morgues. Mike Rose, cleveland, "Latest coronavirus updates: Europe’s hospitals bow under the weight of pandemic crush," 3 Apr. 2020 Set against the portent of mass calamity, even a fleeting form like Offill’s gets loaded up with significance. Michelle Dean, The New Republic, "A Fragmented Novel for the End of the World," 2 Apr. 2020 The speeches had been full of dark portents—there were references to Pearl Harbor, Pontius Pilate, and Vladimir Putin—but the mood seemed to lift when the voting began, around eight-fifteen. Robert P. Baird, The New Yorker, "The Art of the Democratic Deal," 16 Dec. 2019 But perhaps celebration is always rimmed with portent — then as much as now. Meara Sharma, New York Times, "How to Eat Dinner Like the Last Citizens of Pompeii," 24 Dec. 2019 The minute-long trailer from MGM begins with Hudson silhouetted in sepiatone in some sort of celestial cosmos, singing a verse from the title song nearly a cappella, in a moody arrangement filled as much with portent as soul. NBC News, "Jennifer Hudson commands 'Respect' as Aretha Franklin in first teaser," 23 Dec. 2019 LEXINGTON - Rarely has an opening play been a more telling portent of things to come. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky football sets school record for rushing yards in rout of UT Martin," 23 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'portent.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of portent

1562, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for portent

Latin portentum, from neuter of portentus, past participle of portendere

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Time Traveler for portent

Time Traveler

The first known use of portent was in 1562

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Statistics for portent

Last Updated

19 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Portent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portent. Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for portent


How to pronounce portent (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of portent

formal + literary : a sign or warning that something usually bad or unpleasant is going to happen


por·​tent | \ ˈpȯr-ˌtent How to pronounce portent (audio) \

Kids Definition of portent

: a sign or warning of something usually bad that is going to happen : omen

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