[ pawr-tent, pohr- ]
/ ˈpɔr tɛnt, ˈpoʊr- /


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.

Nearby words

  1. portative organ,
  2. portcullis,
  3. porte,
  4. porte-cochere,
  5. portend,
  6. portentous,
  7. porter,
  8. porter chair,
  9. porter's sign,
  10. porter, cole

Origin of portent

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

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

British Dictionary definitions for portent


/ (ˈpɔːtɛnt) /


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