[pawr-tent, pohr-]


an indication or omen of something about to happen, especially something momentous.
threatening or disquieting significance: an occurrence of dire portent.
a prodigy or marvel.

Origin of portent

1555–65; < Latin portentum sign, token, noun use of neuter of portentus, past participle of portendere to portend

Synonyms for portent

1. augury, warning. See sign. 2. import.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for portent

Contemporary Examples of portent

Historical Examples of portent

  • It was the hush of portent, the hush of watchfulness, the hush of a threatening tension.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • They had him, but it was like getting hold of an apparition, a wraith, a portent.

    Lord Jim

    Joseph Conrad

  • The silence without was only portent of the storm so soon to burst.

    Warrior Gap

    Charles King

  • It was because he was a failure in literature that he became a portent in English history.

    The Napoleon of Notting Hill

    Gilbert K. Chesterton

  • And, try as I might, I felt it to be a portent and a prophecy.

British Dictionary definitions for portent



a sign or indication of a future event, esp a momentous or calamitous one; omen
momentous or ominous significancea cry of dire portent
a miraculous occurrence; marvel

Word Origin for portent

C16: from Latin portentum sign, omen, from portendere to portend
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 portent

1560s, from Middle French portente, from Latin portentum "a sign, token, omen; monster, monstrosity," noun use of neuter of portentus, past participle of portendre (see portend).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper