“What she saw through the portal portended a calamitous future for mankind.”

What is the best definition of portend?

Check your answer!

Choice A - To foreshadow a future event
Choice B - To scare or frighten someone
Choice C - To reveal something about one’s self
Choice D - To devolve into chaos and calamity


Portend (verb) – to foreshadow or be a sign of a future event or occurrence – often one that is ominous or unfortunate

Portent (noun) – a (usually ominous) sign of a future event or occurrence

Portentous (adjective) – of or like a portent or a sign

GRE pro tips:

Portend kind of sounds like portal, which may help you to remember its meaning. You’ve probably heard of “secret portals” (or passageways) to the future. Such mysterious portals allow people to peer into the future, to connect with someone living there, or perhaps even to travel there themselves. Similarly, things that portend a future event allow a glimpse into the future, by foreshadowing what’s yet to come.

To portend most often means to act as an ominous sign of a future event that is calamitous (like an impending war) or at least unfortunate (like a fender bender). But, it can also mean to foretell a neutral or even positive event or occurrence (like a rainfall or success in life).

Example sentences:

“In many movies and stories, a black cat portends an impending catastrophe.”

The results of polls don’t always portend the outcome of an election.”