[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 portending

Historical Examples of portending

  • The air was close, portending the storm that was to break later.

    Janet Hardy in Hollywood

    Ruthe S. Wheeler

  • Did that first division, portending a second division, afflict him?


    James Joyce

  • But certain it is, a great change, bordering on revolution, was portending.

  • It was a summer sunset, portending for the land a morrow of great heat.

    The Lady of the Aroostook

    William Dean Howells

  • What's this fairy story about a portending lynching that Barton's been stuffing me with?

British Dictionary definitions for portending


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 portending



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