1. position in life as determined by wealth: to make one's fortune.
  2. wealth or riches: to lose a small fortune in bad investments.
  3. great wealth; ample stock of money, property, and the like: to be worth a fortune.
  4. chance; luck: They each had the bad fortune to marry the wrong person.
  5. fortunes. things that happen or are to happen to a person in his or her life.
  6. fate; lot; destiny: whatever my fortune may be.
  7. (initial capital letter) chance personified, commonly regarded as a mythical being distributing arbitrarily or capriciously the lots of life: Perhaps Fortune will smile on our venture.
  8. good luck; success; prosperity: a family blessed by fortune.
  9. Archaic. a wealthy woman; an heiress.
verb (used with object), for·tuned, for·tun·ing.
  1. Archaic. to endow (someone or something) with a fortune.
verb (used without object), for·tuned, for·tun·ing.
  1. Archaic. to chance or happen; come by chance.
  1. tell someone's fortune, to profess to inform someone of future events in his or her own life; foretell.

Origin of fortune

1250–1300; Middle English < Old French < Latin fortūna chance, luck, fortune, derivative of fort- (stem of fors) chance
Related formsfor·tune·less, adjective

Synonyms for fortune Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for tell someone's fortune


  1. an amount of wealth or material prosperity, esp, when unqualified, a great amount
  2. small fortune a large sum of money
  3. a power or force, often personalized, regarded as being responsible for human affairs; chance
  4. luck, esp when favourable
  5. (often plural) a person's lot or destiny
  1. archaic
    1. (tr)to endow with great wealth
    2. (intr)to happen by chance
Derived Formsfortuneless, adjective

Word Origin for fortune

C13: from Old French, from Latin fortūna, from fors chance
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 tell someone's fortune



c.1300, "chance, luck as a force in human affairs," from Old French fortune "lot, good fortune, misfortune" (12c.), from Latin fortuna "chance, fate, good luck," from fors (genitive fortis) "chance, luck," possibly from PIE *bhrtu- and related to base *bher- (1) "to carry" (see infer).

Often personified as a goddess; her wheel betokens vicissitude. Sense of "owned wealth" first found in Spenser; probably it evolved from senses of "one's condition or standing in life," hence "position as determined by wealth," then "wealth" itself. Soldier of fortune first attested 1660s. Fortune 500 "most profitable American companies" is 1955, from the list published annually in "Fortune" magazine.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with tell someone's fortune


see make a fortune.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.