(7 letters | 2 syllables)
(scrabble score – 9)
noun | a sign of something about to happen
a sign or warning that something usually bad or unpleasant is going to happen
Definition of portent
- something that foreshadows a coming event : omen, sign
- prophetic indication or significance
- marvel, prodigy
Origin and Etymology of portent
Latin portentum, from neuter of portentus, past participle of portendere
First Known Use: circa 1587
an indication or omen of something about to happen, especially something momentous.
threatening or disquieting significance:
an occurrence of dire 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
C16: from Latin portentum sign, omen, from portendere to portend
(Collins English Dictionary)
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).
early 15c., from Latin portendere “foretell, reveal; point out, indicate,” originally “to stretch forward,” from por- (variant of pro-; see pro-) “forth, forward” + tendere “to stretch, extend” (see tenet). Related: Portended; portending.
1540s, from Latin portentosus “monstrous, marvelous, threatening,” from portentem “portent” (see portend). Related: Portentously
early 14c., “malformed animal or human, creature afflicted with a birth defect,” from Old French monstre, mostre “monster, monstrosity” (12c.), and directly from Latin monstrum “divine omen, portent, sign; abnormal shape; monster, monstrosity,” figuratively “repulsive character, object of dread, awful deed, abomination,” from root of monere “warn” (see monitor (n.)). Abnormal or prodigious animals were regarded as signs or omens of impending evil. Extended by late 14c. to imaginary animals composed of parts of creatures (centaur, griffin, etc.). Meaning “animal of vast size” is from 1520s; sense of “person of inhuman cruelty or wickedness” is from 1550s. As an adjective, “of extraordinary size,” from 1837. In Old English, the monster Grendel was an aglæca, a word related to aglæc “calamity, terror, distress, oppression.
late 14c., “divination from the flight of birds,” from Old French augure “divination, soothsaying, sorcery, enchantment,” or directly from Latin augurium “divination, the observation and interpretation of omens” (see augur). Figurative sense of “omen, portent, indication” is from 1797 (also often in plural as auguries)