[pawr-tend, pohr-]

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

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin portendere to point out, indicate, portend, variant of prōtendere to extend. See pro-1, tend1
Related formsun·por·tend·ed, adjective
Can be confusedportend pretend (see synonym study at pretend)

Synonyms for portend

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for portend

Contemporary Examples of portend

Historical Examples of portend

  • 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.

  • What did it portend that Mrs. Stannard should have cut Mr. Gleason dead?

    Marion's Faith.

    Charles King

British Dictionary definitions for portend


verb (tr)

to give warning of; predict or foreshadow
obsolete to indicate or signify; mean

Word Origin for portend

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

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