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Borrowed from Latin portentōsus, from portentus (predicted); equivalent to portent +‎ -ous.


  • IPA(key): /pɔː(ɹ)ˈtɛntəs/
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portentous (comparative more portentous, superlative most portentous)

  1. Of momentous or ominous significance.
    Synonyms: ominous, momentous
    • c. 1599-1602, William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act 1, scene 1; republished as Hamlet, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1992, →ISBN, page 4:
      Well may it sort [be fitting] that this portentous figure comes armed through our watch, so like the King that was and is the question of these wars.
    • 1931, H. P. Lovecraft, chapter 2, in The Whisperer in Darkness:
      It is no longer in my possession, but my memory holds almost every word of its portentous message; and again I affirm my confidence in the sanity of the man who wrote it.
    • 2019 March 15, Rachel Aroesti, “The Cinematic Orchestra: To Believe review – soundscape originators' accomplished return”, in The Guardian[1]:
      The main problem with To Believe, however, is that by combining two of their previous styles, the Cinematic Orchestra have landed on a sound that has become ubiquitous in the years they’ve been away – portentous, restrained and impeccably tasteful electronica.
  2. Ominously prophetic.
    Synonyms: foreshadowing, predictive, premonitory, prognosticatory
  3. Puffed up with vanity.

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