Definition of betoken in US English:



[with object]literary
  • 1Be a sign of; indicate.

    ‘she wondered if his cold, level gaze betokened indifference or anger’
    • ‘The body is the sign not of sublime animation betokening inspiration, and thus of legitimating truth and divine authenticity, but a means of emptying truth from the image.’
    • ‘These geometric forms, however, could betoken the patron rather than the designer, especially for an audience less familiar with the arts and their leading representatives.’
    • ‘If, between the two, an outline faintly emerges of something betokening a system - implied through the press-release fog - then we shall have something to test against and compare with other documented cases affecting films.’
    • ‘Such desperate expressions of Scottishness could be laughable, but they betokened a serious condition.’
    • ‘Doth that betoken its issue was with us getting a druye olders at all?’
    • ‘The reluctance to wave the big stick at employers does not betoken EU indifference.’
    • ‘The forfeiture occurred March 27, 2002, when, in a private act betokening an uneasy conscience, he signed the McCain-Feingold law expanding government regulation of the timing, quantity and content of political speech.’
    • ‘Since you can give yourself one by walking in to a door, it hardly betokens animal savagery.’
    • ‘And it would be fair to surmise that her decision not to seek a second term betokened a certain frustration.’
    • ‘His oeuvre is rich and deep, betokening a talent reaching beyond chart-toppers, as most anyone familiar with his music can attest.’
    • ‘As the lawyers say, ‘Silence betokens consent.’’
    • ‘This dazzling conceit betokens the director's fascination with surface, a fascination which, on closer examination, reveals infinite depths of feeling.’
    • ‘His narrow, gimlet gaze, on the other hand, betokens a man of limited mind and sympathies.’
    • ‘Far from it: it betokens a sense of self-reliance, of a recognition of the need to husband one's resources against a rainy day, of expecting the worst.’
    • ‘Huge white paw prints on the ground do not betoken the menace that might be expected.’
    • ‘In another paradox, man will become stronger after his ‘overthrow’ by God, and more capable of full love and devotion to God; however, a call for such violence already betokens a certain hardiness of spirit.’
    • ‘But they betoken something that I believe has very ominous implications.’
    • ‘It is just as true that the endless portrayals of the life of Christ in medieval art, as well as acting as one of the main forms of religious instruction, betoken an obsessive desire to grasp the essence of the God-man.’
    • ‘Celebrating our national spirit on our patron saint's day, such awards clearly cannot do justice to the myriad, often unsung acts of ingenuity, endeavour or sheer on-the-street decency which betoken the progress of a people.’
    • ‘Only after a decade or more does one begin to see the tower cranes which betoken new construction in the sky near the motorway junctions.’
    mean, denote, designate, represent, symbolize, stand for, correspond to, be equivalent to, imply
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Be a warning or indication of (a future event)
      ‘the falling comet betokened the true end of Merlin's powers’
      • ‘In the minds of local farmers, the peony tree to some extent is a god, and the great number of its flowers betoken that year's foison.’
      • ‘The assertion by US officials that Friday's air strikes were ‘routine’ actions, far from indicating a policy of moderation, betokens a more aggressively militaristic posture.’
      • ‘Every coincidence of taste and preference betokens happy times ahead.’
      • ‘‘Although the term ‘purposive construction’ is not new, its entry into fashion betokens a swing by the appellate courts away from literal construction.’
      • ‘Does it betoken death (as with Miss Marchmont) or a terrifying brush with death (as with Lucy)?’
      • ‘Her victory betokens again our changed needs and tastes.’
      • ‘Nonetheless, they betokened a major transformation in the history of religion and society in America, and my organization was ill-suited to do much other than complain about it.’
      • ‘This decay must betoken the doom of modern civilisation as it did that of Rome and Greece, unless some new moral or physical factors arise to defeat it.’
      • ‘Despite all the resistance and foot dragging, Vatican II betokened change, sometimes very colorfully.’
      • ‘That instability, in turn, may betoken some profound change on the horizon.’
      • ‘If there are no angels in the sky announcing the birth of a saviour, that cave still betokens a Christmas and there's a search and rescue party keeping vigil near the child.’
      • ‘Could it be that the this turning of the greatest of the beasts of structure, corporations, could betoken an even more significant change?’
      • ‘Whether this betokens a change in the author's views or merely proves his ability to ride two different horses at once, we cannot tell.’
      • ‘A peaceful death betokened a serene conscience, a life well lived.’
      • ‘Does all this betoken a possibly lethal sickness in the west?’
      • ‘If the deformations betoken imminent disaster, alarms will be sounded.’
      • ‘Having lost these things they content themselves with artificial programs and imagine that increasing numbers betoken God's continued favour.’
      • ‘Underlying it all is the threat of being melted down - which, at one despairing point, Jacie herself desires - and the androids' lack of sexual organs and what this betokens for our lovers' future.’
      • ‘Does this betoken a sea change Irish political tastes since the birth of the tiger?’
      • ‘The pipe-shattering rap, of course, betokens the arrival of the man midwife (much beslopped, as it will appear, from having fallen in the stable-yard, just outside the house).’
      indicate, be an indication of, signify, be a sign of, be evidence of, evidence, manifest, mean, denote, represent, show, demonstrate, bespeak
      presage, portend, augur, be an omen of, be a sign of, be a warning of, warn of, bode, foreshadow, foretell, prophesy, be a harbinger of, herald
      View synonyms


Old English betācnian, from be- (as an intensifier) + tācnian ‘signify’, of Germanic origin; related to token.