Definitions

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

  • n. An indication of something important or calamitous about to occur; an omen.
  • n. Prophetic or threatening significance: signs full of portent.
  • n. Something amazing or marvelous; a prodigy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Something that portends an event about to occur, especially an unfortunate or evil event; an omen.
  • n. A portending; significance; as, a howl of dire portent.
  • n. Something regarded as portentous; a marvel; prodigy.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That which portends, or foretoken; esp., that which portends evil; a sign of coming calamity; an omen; a sign.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. That which portends or foretokens; a sign or token; an omen, generally of ill, or of something to be feared.
  • n. Synonyms Sign, Presage, etc. See omen, and foretell, v. t.

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

  • n. a sign of something about to happen

Etymologies

Latin portentum, from neuter past participle of portendere, to portend; see portend.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
portend +‎ -ent (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Is the new design a good portent from the new management team? blog comments powered by Disqus

    Android and Palm coming with new phones : #comments

  • The portent is described with great force and subtlety.

    Nobel Prize in Literature 1911 - Presentation Speech

  • "And who shall say," Abraham asked, looking from face to face, "that it's not a portent from the heavens that we shall find the Way of the Spices?

    Spice and the Devil's Cave

  • Always the portent was a shadow behind their interest and amiability and jealousy.

    The Border Legion

  • Saurid, being convinced by his priests, astrologers and soothsayers that the portent was a true one, became from that time possessed of one idea, which was that the vast learning of Egypt, its sciences, discoveries and strange traditions should not be lost, -- and that the exploits and achievements of those who were great and famous in the land should be so recorded as never to be forgotten.

    Ziska

  • STRANGER: There did really happen, and will again happen, like many other events of which ancient tradition has preserved the record, the portent which is traditionally said to have occurred in the quarrel of Atreus and Thyestes.

    The Statesman

  • She was struck by how accurately the Sister had hit upon the peculiar, uneasy feeling she was havinga kind of portent to doom, yet without definable cause, that made the fine hairs at the back of her neck stand on end like when she would be lying in her bedroll, almost asleep, and every insect, all at once, went silent.

    The Pillars of Creation

  • This incident at Walker's Point when a freak storm destroyed his mildly ancestral home in Kennebunkport was almost a kind of portent of what was to come.

    Hell of a Ride: Backstage at the White House Follies 1989-1993

  • If we glance over the latter part of the book of prodigies, compiled by the otherwise unknown writer Julius Obsequens from the records of the pontifices quoted in Livy's history, we can get a fair idea of the kind of portent that was troubling the popular mind.

    Social life at Rome in the Age of Cicero

  • He told himself that it was a silly piece of superstition; but, all the same, a strange feeling troubled him; and it seemed as if the fall of these old mementoes of the gallant officer, his dead father, was a kind of portent of trouble to come -- trouble and disaster that would be brought about by his cousin.

    The Queen's Scarlet The Adventures and Misadventures of Sir Richard Frayne

Comments

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  • Portents and prodigies have grown so frequent,
    That they have lost their name. Our fruitful Nile
    Flowed ere the wonted season, with a torrent
    So unexpected, and so wondrous fierce,
    That the wild deluge overtook the haste
    Even of the hinds that watched it:

    - John Dryden, 'All for Love'.

    September 20, 2009