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portentous
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portentous


They were excited by the portentous reports.
  very important; or indicating something important in the future — especially something bad

or:

acting overly important or serious
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portentous portentously portentousness
Strongly Associated with:   portend, portent
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Samples:
  • They were excited by the portentous reports.
  • an illustration of something more portentous
  • the most portentous meeting of the year
  • She always speaks in a portentous voice.

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  • After a long silence, during which he toyed portentously with some of his skulls, my chief began his briefing.
    Farley Mowat  --  Never Cry Wolf
  • It must have been a large, beautiful bird with magnificent plumage, but its skeleton, hung like a warning to other fowl, was a portentous reminder that the fishermen were also hunters who killed for pleasure as well as for food.
    Pat Conroy  --  The Water is Wide
  • Apropos of which, Sophie realized, Bronek was now speaking in the tones of one proud to be privy to portentous tidings.
    William Styron  --  Sophie’s Choice
  • She could unsheathe from her arsenal a mockingly grave way of talking about things she found either portentous or frivolous.
    Khaled Hosseini  --  And The Mountains Echoed
  • Before me stretched the portentous, menacing road of a new decade.
    F. Scott Fitzgerald  --  The Great Gatsby
  • Such a portentous and mysterious monster roused all my curiosity.
    Herman Melville  --  Moby Dick

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  • The lamps across his streets had a portentously elastic swing with them.
    Charles Dickens  --  A Tale of Two Cities
  • Mr. Bumble, catching at the inquiry very quickly, shook his head with portentous solemnity.
    Charles Dickens  --  Oliver Twist
  • Tom drew an hour-glass with a full moon and straw limbs to it and armed the spreading fingers with a portentous fan.
    Mark Twain  --  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  • "Yes, Mr. Marx," said the Director portentously.
    Aldous Huxley  --  Brave New World
  • The spirit of mighty days at that portentous moment made its descent on that unknown man.
    Victor Hugo  --  Les Miserables
  • "I will tell you in your private ear," replied she, wagging her turban three times with portentous significancy.
    Charlotte Bronte  --  Jane Eyre
  • This time the portentous bird is not an eagle, oaeToq, but a hawk, KI’PKOS, carrying a captured dove.
    Homer  --  The Odyssey
  • The lieutenant, returning from a tour after a bandage, produced from a hidden receptacle of his mind new and portentous oaths suited to the emergency.
    Stephen Crane  --  The Red Badge of Courage
  • As Amy returned from her last trip, Mr. Davis gave a portentous "Hem!" and said, in his most impressive manner….
    Louisa May Alcott  --  Little Women
  • I think it be no other but e’en so: Well may it sort, that this portentous figure Comes armed through our watch; so like the king That was and is the question of these wars.
    William Shakespeare  --  Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
  • The sun, an hour above the horizon, is poised like a bloody egg upon a crest of thunderheads; the light has turned copper: in the eye portentous, in the nose sulphurous, smelling of lightning.
    William Faulkner  --  As I Lay Dying
  • There was something charmingly cordial and engaging in the manner in which after saying "Now, Handel," as if it were the grave beginning of a portentous business exordium, he had suddenly given up that tone, stretched out his honest hand, and spoken like a schoolboy.
    Charles Dickens  --  Great Expectations
  • Next the loud mournful whistles, the portentous vibration and the boat, the human idea—is in motion.
    F. Scott Fitzgerald  --  Tender is the Night
  • And Zeus that instant launched above the field the most portentous of all birds, an eagle, pinning in his talons a tender fawn.
    Homer  --  The Iliad
  • As if to substantiate Sato’s portentous tone, the mantel clock began chiming the hour.
    Dan Brown  --  The Lost Symbol
  • had tolled deep in his memory like a portentous gong.
    Joseph Heller  --  Catch-22
  • Steadily they rise, not portentous, not threatful.
    William Faulkner  --  Light in August
  • "Mas’r will go his own way!" said Sam, with rueful submission, at the same time winking most Portentously to Andy, whose delight was now very near the explosive point.
    Harriet Beecher Stowe  --  Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Because from such arms conquests come but slowly, long delayed and inconsiderable, but the losses sudden and portentous.
    Nicolo Machiavelli  --  The Prince
  • A portentous clearness now possessed me.
    Henry James  --  The Turn of the Screw
  • Meaningless at first, it gradually became menacing, obnoxious, portentous with evil.
    E.M. Forster  --  A Room With A View
  • When these prodigies Do so conjointly meet, let not men say "These are their reasons; they are natural"; For I believe they are portentous things Unto the climate that they point upon.
    William Shakespeare  --  Julius Caesar
  • The heavy block of its bosiness end made a portentous swishing noise in the night air, and the other boys gathered around as Billy opened the lid of the ice chest and took out the two galvanized steel pails.
    Stephen King  --  Carrie
  • As she entered and closed the door on herself, he sank down in a chair, and gazed and sighed and puffed portentously.
    William Makepeace Thackeray  --  Vanity Fair
  • But scarce was this done ere the portentous strength of the Black Knight forced his way inward in despite of De Bracy and his followers.
    Sir Walter Scott  --  Ivanhoe
  • No enigma, no dignity, nothing classical, portentous, only this —a comic pornographer and a rabble of prostitutes… .
    Tom Stoppard  --  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
  • Wheelock asks portentously, as most of the class begins flipping through its 1993 edition of the book.
    Ron Suskind  --  A Hope in the Unseen
  • Or I was attracted by the passage of wild pigeons from this wood to that, with a slight quivering winnowing sound and carrier haste; or from under a rotten stump my hoe turned up a sluggish portentous and outlandish spotted salamander, a trace of Egypt and the Nile, yet our contemporary.
    Henry David Thoreau  --  Walden
  • Those allied powers were considerably astonished, when they arrived within a few minutes of each other, to find an unknown lady of portentous appearance, sitting before the fire, with her bonnet tied over her left arm, stopping her ears with jewellers’ cotton.
    Charles Dickens  --  David Copperfield
  • 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
  • …there been seen, With tears augmenting the fresh morning’s dew, Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs: But all so soon as the all-cheering sun Should in the farthest east begin to draw The shady curtains from Aurora’s bed, Away from light steals home my heavy son, And private in his chamber pens himself; Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out And makes himself an artificial night: Black and portentous must this humour prove, Unless good counsel may the cause remove.
    William Shakespeare  --  Romeo and Juliet
  • Orik started to answer, but then a long, low note of portentous volume reverberated throughout the floor and the ceiling and the air of the room, causing Eragon’s bones to vibrate with its force.
    Christopher Paolini  --  Brisingr
  • He would delight them equally by his anecdotes of witchcraft, and of the direful omens and portentous sights and sounds in the air, which prevailed in the earlier times of Connecticut; and would frighten them woefully with speculations upon comets and shooting stars; and with the alarming fact that the world did absolutely turn round, and that they were half the time topsy-turvy!
    Washington Irving  --  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
  • There were such portentous shepherdesses among the Ladies Dedlock dead and gone, he told us, that peaceful crooks became weapons of assault in their hands.
    Charles Dickens  --  Bleak House
  • The red light of the setting sun seemed to have a portentous meaning, with which the alarming bray of the second donkey with the log on its foot must surely have some connection.
    George Eliot  --  The Mill on the Floss
  • For about five minutes the dancing had some value in itself, then it became very much like acting out some complicated and portentous business in a dream which seems to have a meaning but whose meaning you can’t figure out.
    Robert Penn Warren  --  All the King’s Men
  • "If I am not well-informed it shall be by no fault of my own," she would say to herself through the tears that would occasionally glide down her peachy cheeks when she was fairly baffled by the portentous obscurity of many of these educational works.
    Thomas Hardy  --  The Mayor of Casterbridge
  • How did she exist in that portentous atmosphere where the maid was always removing in a dust-pan the sand that the parrot had scattered, and conversation was almost entirely reduced to the exploits—interesting perhaps, but limited after all—of that bird?
    Virginia Woolf  --  To the Lighthouse
  • A portentous sigh.
    Sinclair Lewis  --  Main Street
  • Without giving herself time for a second thought, she rushed into the shop, pale, wild, desperate in gesture and expression, scowling portentously, and looking far better qualified to do fierce battle with a housebreaker than to stand smiling behind the counter, bartering small wares for a copper recompense.
    Nathaniel Hawthorne  --  The House of the Seven Gables
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Associated words [difficulty]:   portentous [5] , portend [6] , portent [4]
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Most commonly used in these subjects:   Fine Arts & Music, Classic Literature, Religion - Christianity
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