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

But the ensuing gang-beating offered a portent of what Amazon was walking into. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Amazon Escapes From New York," 14 Feb. 2019 In one, humanity has ravaged the planet’s surface, moved underground, and has only just begun to make the surface habitable again; in the other, King Shulgi and Susa, a priestess, argue about new stars in the sky and the meaning of portents. Amal El-mohtar, New York Times, "Princesses, Priestesses and Time Travel: What’s New in Science Fiction and Fantasy," 19 Apr. 2018 That said, the Koch feud is a portent of more fractures in the party system. Daniel Henninger, WSJ, "Trump’s Ultimate Disruption," 8 Aug. 2018 But the eggs being served at Frenchette, Flora Bar, and other portents of the Age of Egg are pastured eggs: eggs from chickens that still forage and peck and lay less frequently. Tamar Adler, Vogue, "Why Pastured Eggs Are the Perfect Food," 13 Sep. 2018 The historical detail is well dosed, and the narrative delivers on its portents. Michael Owen, New York Times, "A Tale of Soviet-Era Bucharest Probes the Ties Between Writer and Muse," 2 Mar. 2018 Still, Ziggy feels like a portent of things to come. Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times, "‘First Person’: Ghost writer and con-man client go to some dark places," 17 Apr. 2018 Ominous portents because Boston went on to lose both those series. Charles P. Pierce, SI.com, "Marcus Smart Continues to Give the Celtics Exactly What They Need," 14 May 2018 Within the administration, some painted the strike as a possible portent of greater American involvement in the Syrian conflict. Laura King, latimes.com, "Trump touts 'perfectly carried out' missile strike, but lacks an overall strategy toward Syria," 15 Apr. 2018

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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Statistics for portent

Last Updated

23 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for portent

The first known use of portent was in 1562

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More Definitions for portent



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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Comments on portent

What made you want to look up portent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a shady place in a garden or forest

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