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[pawr-tend, pohr-] /pɔrˈtɛnd, poʊr-/
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.
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin portendere to point out, indicate, portend, variant of prōtendere to extend. See pro-1, tend1
Related forms
unportended, adjective
Can be confused
portend, pretend (see synonym study at pretend)
1. foretell, forecast, augur, promise, forebode. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for portends
  • Yet officials have downplayed its import, saying to multiple media outlets that it portends no large strategic shifts.
  • Researchers cannot say whether the dip portends a longer-term slowdown.
  • Climate change has become not only a problem for future generations but a current event that portends catastrophe.
  • And that portends stagnating economic growth and a declining standard of living.
  • What it portends for the less privileged is obvious.
  • Each nervous glance portends some potential disaster.
  • The prospect of so many parents dying portends a wave of suffering, family devastation and social disruption.
British Dictionary definitions for portends


verb (transitive)
to give warning of; predict or foreshadow
(obsolete) to indicate or signify; mean
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for portends
early 15c., from L. portendere "foretell," originally "to stretch forward," from por- (variant of pro-) "forth, forward" + tendere "to stretch, extend" (see tenet).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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