Thesaurus

portentous

adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms of portentous

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About portentous

How does the adjective portentous differ from other similar words?

The words fateful and ominous are common synonyms of portentous. While all three words mean "having a menacing or threatening aspect," portentous suggests being frighteningly big or impressive but now seldom definitely connotes forewarning of calamity.

an eerie and portentous stillness

When is it sensible to use fateful instead of portentous?

In some situations, the words fateful and portentous are roughly equivalent. However, fateful suggests being of momentous or decisive importance.

the fateful conference that led to war

When can ominous be used instead of portentous?

The words ominous and portentous are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, ominous implies having a menacing, alarming character foreshadowing evil or disaster.

ominous rumblings from the volcano

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About portentous

Time Traveler for portentous

Time Traveler

The first known use of portentous was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About portentous

Thesaurus Entries Near portentous

portent

portentous

portents

See More Nearby Entries 

Cite this Entry

“Portentous.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/portentous. Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on portentous

Nglish: Translation of portentous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of portentous for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!