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[pawr-ten-tuh s, pohr-] /pɔrˈtɛn təs, poʊr-/
of the nature of a portent; momentous.
ominously significant or indicative:
a portentous defeat.
marvelous; amazing; prodigious.
Origin of portentous
From the Latin word portentōsus, dating back to 1530-40. See portent, -ous
Related forms
portentously, adverb
portentousness, noun
nonportentous, adjective
nonportentously, adverb
nonportentousness, noun
unportentous, adjective
unportentously, adverb
unportentousness, noun
Can be confused
portentous, pretentious.
1, 2. See ominous. 2. unpropitious, inauspicious, threatening. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for portentously
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "There's a man you don't want to have much to do with," she said portentously.

  • It was so portentously produced that her ladyship had somehow to meet it.

    Some Short Stories Henry James
  • No one could have been so portentously sagacious as he looked.

    John Forster Percy Hethrington Fitzgerald
  • This, sir, he said portentously, is the language of the Derby.

    Lord Randolph Churchill Winston Spencer Churchill
  • But the punch which succeeded was of excellent quality, and portentously strong.

    The Surgeon's Daughter Sir Walter Scott
  • "Mr. Richards will be in front to-night," he told her, portentously.

    The Vanity Girl Compton Mackenzie
  • She said it portentously, as bidding him remember he might be sorry when she was no more.

    Old Crow Alice Brown
  • Hetty's was flushed and apprehensive, Leger's portentously quiet.

    Delilah of the Snows Harold Bindloss
British Dictionary definitions for portentously


of momentous or ominous significance
miraculous, amazing, or awe-inspiring; prodigious
self-important or pompous
Derived Forms
portentously, adverb
portentousness, 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 portentously



1540s, from Latin portentosus "monstrous, marvelous, threatening," from portentem "portent" (see portend). Related: Portentously.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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