Definitions

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

  • adj. Of the nature of or constituting a portent; foreboding: "The present aspect of society is portentous of great change” ( Edward Bellamy).
  • adj. Full of unspecifiable significance; exciting wonder and awe: "Such a portentous and mysterious monster roused all my curiosity” ( Herman Melville).
  • adj. Marked by pompousness; pretentiously weighty.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of momentous or ominous significance.
  • adj. Ominously prophetic.
  • adj. Puffed up with vanity.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of the nature of a portent; containing portents; foreshadowing, esp. foreshadowing ill; ominous.
  • adj. Hence: Monstrous; prodigious; wonderful; dreadful.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of the nature of a portent; ominous; foreshowing ill.
  • Monstrous; prodigious; wonderful.

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

  • adj. of momentous or ominous significance
  • adj. ominously prophetic
  • adj. puffed up with vanity

Etymologies

Sorry, no etymologies found.

Examples

  • Harris's great skill lies in pulling back every time her creation veers towards the portentous, that is to say the Tolkienesque ....

    Runemarks: Summary and book reviews of Runemarks by Joanne Harris.

  • The decision to allow infant baptism is described as portentous: a dramatic sign which foreshadows something.

    the problem of infant baptism

  • "Yes, this has been what you might call a portentous evening," agreed

    The Motor Girls Through New England or, Held by the Gypsies

  • Nation's whole name is Carrie Amelia Nation, but having noticed from old records that her father wrote the first name "Carry," she now does the same, and considers the name portentous as concerns what she is trying and means to do.

    The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation

  • Mrs. Nation's whole name is Carrie Amelia Nation, but having noticed from old records that her father wrote the first name "Carry," she now does the same, and considers the name portentous as concerns what she is trying and means to do.

    The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation

  • Last month the judges -- bleary-eyed from reading 130 nominated books each -- attacked publishers for submitting works they called "portentous," "pretentious" and "pompous."

    Eyes On The Prize

  • Her face was fixed on her, through the night; she was the creature who had escaped by force from her cage, yet there was in her whole motion assuredly, even as so dimly discerned, a kind of portentous intelligent stillness.

    The Golden Bowl — Volume 2

  • Society-wide measures of religious behavior muffle portentous change that may be occurring at the younger edge of the population, so social prognosticators just like commercial advertisers focus on trends among young adults, trying to discern which aspects of behavior are what they are because the youths are young, and which aspects are what they are because of when they are young.

    American Grace

  • Because of its longevity as a shaper of the partisan landscape, changes in abortion attitudes are especially portentous.

    American Grace

  • The trend on attitudes toward abortion among young people likely has a different, but no less portentous, implication.

    American Grace

Comments

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  • on his talk show to weigh in on the portentous topic

    November 10, 2010

  • "Once established before the grate, and consoling himself for the inadequacy of the dinner by the perfection of his cigar, Mr. Jackson became portentous and communicable."
    - Edith Wharton, 'The Age of Innocence'.

    September 19, 2009

  • "Probably no ship in modern history has carried a more portentous freight." pg 23, A People's History of the United States

    December 26, 2007