Definition of fortune in English:



  • 1[mass noun] Chance or luck as an arbitrary force affecting human affairs:

    ‘some malicious act of fortune keeps them separate’
    • ‘I knew I wouldn't get a chance to slip in before class but fortune smiled on me in the form of an open window.’
    • ‘Some are not so lucky, but I believe that fortune has smiled on him.’
    • ‘The idea of restoring the aircraft in the desert became more remote but good fortune smiled upon the museum.’
    • ‘Peter's exercised the discipline and fitness that we have come to expect from them, but were also forced to rely on fortune.’
    • ‘Aries, the cosmic lamb/ram, thus was seen to control time and space and human fortune.’
    • ‘However, fortune smiled upon them, as they had arrived in Nathaal a few hours earlier than expected.’
    • ‘At its core, Le Cercle Rouge is all about fortune, about how it cannot be forced nor can it be avoided.’
    • ‘I should have known that such good luck was not my fortune though.’
    • ‘There are few things I dislike more than feeling that my fate and fortune is in the hands of professional back-protectors.’
    • ‘Notwithstanding those difficulties the biggest problem facing any publisher is chance and fickle fortune.’
    • ‘And just as the serpent had promised, good fortune smiled upon the woodcutter and his wife.’
    • ‘The veterinarian says fortune has smiled on his life.’
    • ‘We are trying that all the time and on Sunday fortune smiled little bit on us.’
    • ‘As a result she had been kicked around by fortune as it pleased, painfully aware of its brute force.’
    • ‘Good fortune smiled however, when they added organic dairy products to their mix.’
    • ‘Even his eventual transfer was an accident of fortune.’
    • ‘But the pair suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with smiles and embraced each other warmly at the end of an epic contest.’
    • ‘He weighed up the opportunities which fortune provided.’
    chance, accident, coincidence, serendipity, twist of fate, destiny, fortuity, providence, freak, hazard
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    1. 1.1 Luck, especially good luck:
      ‘only good fortune has prevented British casualties’
      • ‘Perhaps the biggest factors in maintaining the team's good fortune are work ethic and determination.’
      • ‘This is an astounding piece of good fortune for our sport, as we know that all publicity is good publicity.’
      • ‘The men in the famous zebra stripes could scarcely believe their ill fortune when they were denied two penalties in the first ten minutes.’
      • ‘They have not reached this predicament simply through ill fortune.’
      • ‘Astronomers tend to resist explanations that depend on human good fortune.’
      • ‘The rest of the party was stunned at their good fortune, slowly moving back into a group - all save one.’
      • ‘I have had the good fortune to see the piece several times a day for several weeks, as it was placed outside my office before the sale.’
      • ‘Maguire missed four of the last Cheltenham Festivals due to ill fortune.’
      • ‘Sponsorship in a recession is not easy to come by, but he appears to be managing and this piece of good fortune will undoubtedly help.’
      • ‘Desperate times call for desperate measures and he, too, has found a way to overcome his recent ill fortune.’
      • ‘Sure enough, both fortune and luck being with me, I won the piece for the starting price.’
      • ‘They usually employed various psychological techniques to cope with and often even thrive upon any ill fortune that came their way.’
      • ‘All these problems were set against a backdrop of war and accentuated by ill fortune.’
      • ‘Every misfortune, like any piece of good fortune, involves two questions: The first is how it happened, and the second is why.’
      • ‘This is supposed to prevent good fortune from being swept out of the family.’
      • ‘His eyes lingered on some points more than the rest and he smiled at his fortune.’
      • ‘All failure, however undeserved, however excused or dogged by ill fortune, is treated the same.’
      • ‘That piece of good fortune heralded something of a turnaround, as the Scots put together their best period to date.’
      • ‘It is clear that only good fortune prevented loss of life on the night of the fire.’
      • ‘Some Vietnamese believe that spirits have the ability to bring good fortune and misfortune to human life.’
      luck, fate, destiny, predestination, the stars, fortuity, serendipity, karma, kismet, lot, what is written in the stars
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    2. 1.2fortunes The success or failure of a person or enterprise over a period of time:
      ‘he is credited with turning round the company's fortunes’
      • ‘Despite the turn in his public fortunes, privately it's been a difficult year.’
      • ‘But it was a trip to Ireland that really transformed the company's fortunes.’
      • ‘He hoped that a successful outcome in the Special Election would reverse his sagging political fortunes.’
      • ‘Workers at a famous Bolton factory have helped turn around their company's fortunes.’
      • ‘Both men have seen their fortunes rise and fall with the opinion poll results.’
      • ‘The party's electoral fortunes also revived in the state elections and by-elections.’
      • ‘She helped to change the image and fortunes of the estate by improving facilities, particularly for the young.’
      • ‘The club's fortunes have risen and declined again.’
      • ‘Residents have also been urged to gather information on troublemakers in a bid to turn the estate's fortunes around.’
      • ‘She wants to turn the team's fortunes around quickly, whatever it takes.’
      • ‘His reaction amounts to an acknowledgement that the fortunes of the national side inform everything.’
      circumstances, state of affairs, condition, financial position, material position, financial situation, material situation, financial status, material status
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  • 2A large amount of money or assets:

    ‘he inherited a substantial fortune’
    • ‘A pensioner who wins the lottery or inherits an unexpected fortune could continue to claim the government's new flagship benefit.’
    • ‘Not only does he smoke heavily, but he has made a substantial fortune out of selling and marketing tobacco, to the detriment of the health of many people.’
    • ‘The young would be lured in with promises of amassing great fortunes in private accounts.’
    • ‘A young man who inherited a large fortune spent all of his time jetting around the world playing new and exotic golf courses.’
    • ‘The wealth brought by his marriage and his canny eye for business between them enabled him to amass a substantial fortune.’
    • ‘In fact, only a handful of the wealthy allow their entire fortunes to be taxed.’
    • ‘It would also give him a chance to spend that fortune.’
    • ‘The five won their chance of fame and fortune after a series of open auditions as viewers watched their highs and lows.’
    • ‘Quite how much of a personal fortune he had inherited is uncertain.’
    • ‘It was in the interests of those who have made vast and largely illicit fortunes at the expense of society that this war was fought.’
    • ‘He eventually grows a conscience, to the point of sacrificing his fortune for every last human life he can save.’
    • ‘Despite humble origins, her father amassed a small fortune buying, cultivating and reselling land.’
    • ‘On paper, this bodes well for trust fund children set to inherit the family fortunes.’
    • ‘Before the war he had been left a substantial fortune by his father.’
    • ‘The president himself made a small fortune selling his failed oil company to business friends of his father.’
    • ‘But it still amounts to a substantial fortune for him not to have a share of.’
    • ‘This metal, dug from the earth of California, provided my fortune.’
    • ‘Great scientific achievements are in prospect, and vast fortunes are to be made.’
    • ‘Bill Cosby may have gained his fame and fortune telling jokes and funny stories.’
    • ‘Since 1987 Forbes has scoured the globe tracking the fortunes of the world's wealthiest people and uncovering new faces.’
    wealth, riches, substance, property, assets, resources, means, deep pockets, possessions, treasure, estate
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    1. 2.1a fortuneinformal A surprisingly high price or amount of money:
      ‘I spent a fortune on drink’
      • ‘Let that be a lesson to you all thinking of engaging in cultural exchanges: send something that doesn't cost a fortune to post.’
      • ‘We then spent a fortune buying all sorts of goodies from some of the shops in Glastonbury High Street.’
      • ‘Well the rumourmongers claim a jealous belief that the playhouse costs a fortune to run and cannot be making any money.’
      • ‘The huge raids cost a fortune, embarrassed the police and the tide of street dealers flowed back in.’
      • ‘For example, it cost a small fortune just for the extension cords.’
      • ‘Like I didn't spend a fortune having the Times sent to me every day.’
      • ‘All I know is that it costs us a fortune in cat food.’
      • ‘It will not cost a fortune to buy, insurance is not needed, maintenance is minimal and a driving licence is not essential.’
      • ‘Even though these items cost a fortune, they're bought because their owners don't want to be looked down on.’
      • ‘It does not cost a fortune to make and is even better value for money if you buy a large sack of potatoes.’
      • ‘But, thankfully, we've now got room to lock away the teak garden furniture that we spent a fortune buying at the start of the summer.’
      • ‘It may cost a fortune but it was definitely worth it.’
      • ‘I wouldn't have accepted if mum hadn't forked out a fortune to buy me this dress.’
      • ‘This call is costing me a fortune, so don't waste my time and money denying this.’
      • ‘The second Megan stepped inside, she knew that it must have cost Chris a fortune to get the reservations.’
      • ‘Like all Kias, the Sorento will not cost you a fortune to buy or to run.’
      • ‘While you can spend a fortune on buying and decorating your ideal dolls' home, you don't have to.’
      • ‘The whole system looked like a proper dog's dinner and it cost a fortune to set up.’
      • ‘Items such as modern hi-tech lamps can cost a fortune to buy but you haven't begun to count the real cost until you work out what you pay to travel with them.’
      • ‘Officials also knew that upgrading the building to meet seismic standards would cost a fortune.’
      a huge amount, a small fortune, a king's ransom, a vast sum, a large sum of money, a lot, millions, billions
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  • fortune favours the brave

    • proverb A successful person is often one who is willing to take risks.

      • ‘They would not compromise their belief that fortune favours the brave.’
      • ‘But fortune favours the brave and Wanderers have been rewarded for their bold buying policy.’
      • ‘One of the smartest pieces of advice offered by the author of The Prince was that fortune favours the brave.’
      • ‘It is said that fortune favours the brave and that was certainly the case as the swimmers took to the icy waters despite the unfavourable elements, giving a teeth-chattering rendition of Jingle Bells as they did so.’
      • ‘But if fortune favours the brave, the racecourse and its manager deserve good luck, better weather and a successful festival.’
  • the fortunes of war

    • The unpredictable events of war:

      ‘from then on, the fortunes of war favoured the Scots’
      • ‘Don't journalists accept this as the fortunes of war?’
      • ‘Everything depended on risking the fortunes of war.’
      • ‘This was an anomalous position in American law, and one that the fortunes of war and necessities of politics made frustrating.’
      • ‘The missions will grow and change to reflect the fortunes of war, and your faction's standing in the war.’
      • ‘It is the fortunes of war and I could just have easily have come out the other way.’
  • make a (or one's) fortune

    • Acquire great wealth by one's own efforts:

      ‘he had come from Wales to make his fortune as a pop singer’
      • ‘Today's episode has a brisk rehearsal of his business career: failing quite lucratively as an oilman, and then making his fortune out of public funds as part-owner of a football team.’
      • ‘Originally, the employees tended to be young, single men bent on making their fortune quickly and then leaving.’
      • ‘She answers an enigmatic classified ad and travels to New York City not to make her fortune, for fortunes are rare in the sixth year of the Great Depression, but to survive.’
      • ‘In one of the most extraordinary ironies of history, Gutenburg's efforts to make his fortune by popularising the Bible were to play a decisive role in the undermining of the influence of the organised church.’
      • ‘London is a honeypot for young Scots with dreams of making their fortune, but many end up living on the streets, too ashamed or demoralised to return, according to researchers.’
      • ‘Corzine made his fortune by acquiring and maintaining the vast majority of his net worth in Goldman Sachs.’
      • ‘It proved to be tin but their dreams of making their fortune on mining tin proved illusory.’
      • ‘He inherited his wealth from his father, who made his fortune in manufacturing and selling cigars.’
      • ‘There were few who entered the dancehall business in the early 1900s with the intention of making their fortune from it.’
      • ‘It's almost certain that the real estate ‘expert’ encouraging you to make your fortune in real estate is making his fortune from you.’
      make a large profit, make a fortune, make one's fortune, gain, profit, make money, be successful, be lucky
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  • a small fortune

    • informal A large amount of money:

      ‘that dusty old painting on the wall could be worth a small fortune’
      • ‘Father had been fond of giving gifts, and Margaret knew it to be worth a small fortune, should she need it.’
      • ‘The fishing rights must now be worth a small fortune.’
      • ‘The sum is worth a small fortune in India, where it could feed and clothe a family for life.’
      • ‘Over the months the pile of money in my account builds up and soon I have a small fortune.’
      • ‘Only she turned out to be working for this money lender, who reckons I owe him a small fortune in interest now.’
      • ‘The evening must have cost a small fortune, judging by the amounts of food and entertainment and the notable size of the government entourage.’
      • ‘The chances are that it was in a gallery, produced by an art school graduate, and that it was worth a small fortune in the lucrative art market.’
      • ‘And if that volume is still around it will be worth a small fortune.’
      • ‘When you mix men with guns and minerals worth a small fortune, inevitably smuggling, violence and general disorder result.’
      • ‘Should it happen that said uncle's middle initial was B, the information could be worth a small fortune.’
      a huge amount, a small fortune, a king's ransom, a vast sum, a large sum of money, a lot, millions, billions
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  • tell someone's fortune

    • Make predictions about a person's future by palmistry, using a crystal ball, or similar methods:

      ‘during uncertain times people flocked to have their fortunes told’
      • ‘And after that was attended to, she drew up a chair to the rickety table, and told her fortune with an old deck of cards.’
      • ‘I know fortune cookies rarely tell your fortune, but when did they start telling you off?’
      • ‘I was in the middle of telling someone's fortune when I heard a commotion.’
      • ‘You may want to save these though, since many believe that you can use them to tell your fortune.’
      • ‘After a session with the local witchdoctor who told our fortune, we sampled the wonderful hot springs nearby.’
      • ‘Then an older man, wearing a lab coat but still strongly reminiscent of both the tarot reader and the zodiac expert, ran his fingertips over the slides, as though they were Braille, and told her fortune.’
      • ‘The last time someone told my fortune they didn't say a word about living in another country so I discounted most of the things that they said.’
      • ‘My friend Jennifer decided one day that she would tell my fortune using an ordinary pack of playing cards.’
      • ‘She took her daughter out to see them and they admired the little girl as they told her fortune.’
      • ‘In Asia, there are people who can tell your fortune by just looking at your palm or face.’


Middle English: via Old French from Latin Fortuna, the name of a goddess personifying luck or chance.