1 : to give an omen or anticipatory sign of
2 : indicate, signify
In the short story, the appearance of a black cat portends danger for the protagonist.
"These changes portend better possibilities for American manufacturers and American job growth…." - From an article by James Fallows in The Atlantic, November 28, 2012
Did You Know?
"Portend" has been used in English in the context of signs of things to come since the 15th century. The word derives from the Latin verb "portendere," which means "to predict or foretell." That verb, in turn, developed as a combination of the prefix "por-" (meaning "forward") and the verb "tendere" (meaning "to stretch"). So you can think of "portend" as having a literal meaning of "stretching forward to predict." Additional descendants of "tendere" include "extend," "tendon," and "tension," among others.
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