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

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 Whether delivered via text, WhatsApp, email or — shudder — Slack, these three words appear in front of you like a portent of terrible things to come. Vicky Spratt, refinery29.com, 29 Mar. 2022 From the vantage of 2021, the novel is a double portent: a dystopian fantasy and an early spark in the tinderbox of the curriculum wars. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 26 Dec. 2021 That need has come into sharp focus in recent days, with separatist forces shelling dozens of Ukrainian military positions and civilian targets along the front – a possible portent of wider Russian aggression against Ukraine. Dominique Soguel, The Christian Science Monitor, 23 Feb. 2022 The astonishing night two skate propelled him to fifth overall -- off the medal stand but a portent of things to come. Mark Osborne, ABC News, 3 Feb. 2022 Yet Maserati promises that the MC20 isn't an abstract halo car but a portent for the more attainable models as well. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, 25 Mar. 2022 Gregory of Tours interpreted the ball lightning as a portent of the death of King Chilperic's son. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 5 Feb. 2022 After Astroworld, many noted that the rampant gate-crashing could have been seen as a portent of what was to come. Chris Willman, Variety, 14 Feb. 2022 Pointing out similar legislation that has already been passed in California, New York, New Jersey, and Nevada, MacArthur sees Canada as a portent of trends already manifesting in the United States. Jon Brown, Fox News, 17 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of portent was in 1562

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Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Portent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portent. Accessed 26 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for portent


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

More from Merriam-Webster on portent

Nglish: Translation of portent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of portent for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about portent


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