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 Jimmy Garoppolo’s sore ankle became a portent of year-long quarterback issues. Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle, "What the 49ers' 2020 season tells us about the future of 17 game schedules," 2 Apr. 2021 The lingering concern is whether P.1 is a portent of what could happen if the pandemic continues unabated. Luke Taylor, Scientific American, "A City in Brazil’s Amazon Rain Forest Is a Stark Warning about COVID to the Rest of the World," 29 Mar. 2021 In Italy, Europe’s initial epicenter, cases had already begun to spiral, which other countries took as a grim portent. Washington Post, "Unraveling the mystery of Europe’s uneven covid surges," 19 Sep. 2020 This smattering of cases is a hazy portent of our future: Coronavirus infections will continue to occur, even as the masses join the ranks of the inoculated. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, "Some Vaccinated People Are Going to Get Infected," 19 Mar. 2021 The Brazilian’s chance was a portent of what was to come. Samindra Kunti, Forbes, "Champions League: Mediocre Real Madrid Edges Past Atalanta 1-0," 24 Feb. 2021 That intrusion into the Statehouse now looks like a portent of the assault halfway across the country months later at the U.S. Capitol. David D. Kirkpatrick And Mike Mcintire, Star Tribune, "'Its own private army': How the GOP allied itself with militias," 9 Feb. 2021 Indeed, this week’s standoff over Covid-19 relief is a grim portent of what legislative business might look like under a Biden administration. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Mitch McConnell Is Giving Us a Sneak Preview of the Political Hell to Come," 29 Dec. 2020 The land disputes wouldn’t be settled for years to come — a portent of the role that real estate has played in the state throughout its history. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: California isn’t ‘hemorrhaging’ people, but there are reasons for concern," 24 Dec. 2020

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

8 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Portent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portent. Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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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

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