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[fawr-tel, fohr-] /fɔrˈtɛl, foʊr-/
verb (used with object), foretold, foretelling.
to tell of beforehand; predict; prophesy.
Origin of foretell
First recorded in 1250-1300, foretell is from the Middle English word fortell. See fore-, tell1
Related forms
foreteller, noun
unforetold, adjective
forecast, augur, presage, forebode. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for foretell
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Few of us can foretell what may or may not happen under heaven.

    A Woman Intervenes Robert Barr
  • Indeed, to this hour I have a lingering belief that cats can foretell the weather.

    Concerning Cats Helen M. Winslow
  • He cultivated the society of scholars, could interpret signs and foretell the future.

  • On the other hand, to dream of an onion is supposed in some parts to foretell sickness.


    Benjamin Taylor
  • And they do often foretell the most wonderful things; I know they do.

    The Gypsies Charles G. Leland
  • A strange thing in the air that is said, in these parts, to foretell calamity.

  • Where or when they would eat in the valleys of the Ranges no one could foretell.

British Dictionary definitions for foretell


verb -tells, -telling, -told
(transitive; may take a clause as object) to tell or indicate (an event, a result, etc) beforehand; predict
Derived Forms
foreteller, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for foretell

c.1300, from fore- + tell (v.). Related: Foretold; foretelling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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