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[pawr-tend, pohr-] /pɔrˈtɛnd, poʊr-/
verb (used with object)
to indicate in advance; to foreshadow or presage, as an omen does:
The street incident may portend a general uprising.
to signify; mean.
Origin of portend
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin portendere to point out, indicate, portend, variant of prōtendere to extend. See pro-1, tend1
Related forms
unportended, adjective
Can be confused
portend, pretend (see synonym study at pretend)
1. foretell, forecast, augur, promise, forebode. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for portend
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was one of those mornings in summer which portend a thunderstorm and great heat.

    The Christian Hall Caine
  • What could it portend but that the effects of the poison were passing off and that she was recovering?

    The Shame of Motley Raphael Sabatini
  • Atlee watched her, by no means certain what her gesture might portend.

    Lord Kilgobbin Charles Lever
  • A plan was devised to find out what this extravagance of candle might portend.

    Gilian The Dreamer Neil Munro
  • What did it portend that Mrs. Stannard should have cut Mr. Gleason dead?

    Marion's Faith. Charles King
  • Strangers in Gallery rubbed their eyes and asked what this might portend?

British Dictionary definitions for portend


verb (transitive)
to give warning of; predict or foreshadow
(obsolete) to indicate or signify; mean
Word Origin
C15: from Latin portendere to indicate, foretell; related to prōtendere to stretch out
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 portend

early 15c., from Latin portendere "foretell, reveal; point out, indicate," originally "to stretch forward," from por- (variant of pro-; see pro-) "forth, forward" + tendere "to stretch, extend" (see tenet). Related: Portended; portending.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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