1 : to give an omen or anticipatory sign of
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.
The old saying about a halo around the moon portending rain has some truth to it: the halo is caused by cirrus clouds drifting 20,000 feet or more above the Earth, and high cirrus clouds often precede stormy weather.
"To most people, a shore gas station carrying sushi was but a footnote. But Chris could see that that addition portended a changing demographic." — Rona Kobell, quoted in The Baltimore Sun, 8 Nov. 2018
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
Unscramble the letters to create a descendant of the Latin verb tendere that is used to describe something seeming to be true or real but very possibly not true or real: EOSLTBIESN.VIEW THE ANSWER
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