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[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.
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for portent
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A portent of some new and unusual event, or rather the punishment attendant on some atrocious crime.

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

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
  • Questioning what this portent might mean, I saw a mighty phantom rise through the air.

    National Epics Kate Milner Rabb
  • They had him, but it was like getting hold of an apparition, a wraith, a portent.

    Lord Jim Joseph Conrad
  • It was like a portent of something hanging over him, or over her who occupied so much of his thoughts.

    Blind Policy George Manville Fenn
British Dictionary definitions for portent


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