Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A sense that something is about to occur; a premonition.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A premonition; a feeling that something, often of undesirable nature, is going to happen.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Previous sentiment, conception, or opinion; previous apprehension; especially, an antecedent impression or conviction of something unpleasant, distressing, or calamitous, about to happen; anticipation of evil; foreboding.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A direct, though vague, perception of a future event, or a feeling which seems to be such a perception.
  • n. Specifically An antecedent feeling or impression that some misfortune or calamity is about to happen; anticipation of impending evil; foreboding.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a feeling of evil to come

Etymologies

Obsolete French, from presentir, to feel beforehand, from Latin praesentīre : prae-, pre- + sentīre, to feel; see sent- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • The term presentiment suggests a sense of foreboding, a vague feeling of danger, an intuitive hunch that something not quite right is about to unfold.

    ENTANGLED MINDS

  • And, in spite of my confusion and agitation, the inexplicable voice which we call presentiment whispered in my heart: 'He has forbidden you to CALL him father, but he has not said that he is not your father.'

    The Count's Millions

  • I don't know how it is, I was engaged in an affair of this nature once before, and never cared a pin about the matter; but somehow I have got what they call a presentiment that harm will come of to-morrow's business.

    Frank Fairlegh Scenes From The Life Of A Private Pupil

  • We never find instinct making mistakes; we cannot, therefore, ascribe a result which is so invariably precise to such an obscure condition of mind as is implied when the word presentiment is used; on the contrary, this absolute certainty is so characteristic a feature of instinctive actions, that it constitutes almost the only well-marked point of distinction between these and actions that are done upon reflection.

    Unconscious Memory

  • Little addicted by his peculiar habits to an over-indulgence of the imagination, and still less accustomed to those absolute conquests of the physical frame over the mental, which seem the usual sources of that feeling we call presentiment, Mordaunt rose, and walking to and fro along the room, endeavoured by the exercise to restore to his veins their wonted and healthful circulation.

    The Disowned — Volume 08

  • Thoughts conceived under the dominion of that spell are often realized; but we then attribute their pre-vision to a power we call presentiment, -- an inexplicable power, but a real one, -- which our passions find accommodating, like a flatterer who, among his many lies, does sometimes tell the truth.

    The Chouans

  • Hobbie Elliot had, in the meanwhile, pursued his journey rapidly, harassed by those oppressive and indistinct fears that all was not right, which men usually term a presentiment of misfortune.

    The Black Dwarf

  • "That is simply what people call a presentiment," Alice replied.

    Can You Forgive Her?

  • Jeanne, it is said, had at in early age what might be called the presentiment of the throne, at first on account of this frequently-expressed opinion of her mother's, and afterward because she fancied she loved the king.

    International Miscellany of Literature, Art and Science, Vol. 1, No. 3, Oct. 1, 1850

  • It was a fear which may be described as a presentiment of jealousy.

    The Bostonians, Vol. II (of II)

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