Definition of presage in US English:



[with object]
  • 1(of an event) be a sign or warning that (something, typically something bad) will happen.

    ‘the outcome of the game presaged the coming year’
    • ‘Her perfume, Jesus tells us, presages his death: ‘She has anointed my body in anticipation of my burial.’’
    • ‘However, this entry seems to presage Kenny's imminent defeat, and in so doing raises the ethnic issue once again.’
    • ‘So I don't think today's high oil prices presage recession.’
    • ‘We do not know if we can escape the doom now presaged by the ‘worst case scenarios’ with which we have become familiar.’
    • ‘But one political event in Limerick did presage another bigger problem ahead.’
    • ‘Yet this massive show of strength by the unions ultimately presaged their downfall even though this was not at all apparent at the time.’
    • ‘The crisis has led to a widespread panic about oil shortages that in turn affects the US presidential elections and presages a world recession.’
    • ‘The monk's death in my novel, and the manner of his dying, presaged my father's death in ways I could not consciously have known.’
    • ‘This speech, which is in fact a theatrical device to allow Orlando to fetch his faithful servant Adam, presages Adam's death which represents the death of old fashioned virtues and ways.’
    • ‘The change of government, Wilson thought, would not necessarily presage a change in the political culture.’
    • ‘As in past battles, the legal changes will presage changes in culture and public opinion where the previously heretical becomes the obvious and the normal.’
    • ‘The Australian reports that cane toads have just begun to menace Darwin - a pathfinding toad was recently spotted less than 40 km from the city, presaging an imminent attack in force.’
    • ‘Hence, dissatisfaction could arise and presage changes in contract type, terms, or ownership of the parcel.’
    • ‘Death was presaged by the alien's horrible radio transmission.’
    • ‘But by July of 1992, those approval ratings had slid to an abysmal 25 percent, presaging his electoral defeat three months later.’
    • ‘That final gesture seems to have presaged the death of Diana Princess of Wales in a car crash in August 1997.’
    • ‘His position was threatened in 1788 when the illness of George III presaged a change of government.’
    • ‘Three years after she developed asthma, I had also; her stomach problems presaged similar ones for me.’
    • ‘It also presages a debate that is growing in not only environmentalist circles, but in religious ones as well.’
    • ‘This makes possible rapid identification of a disturbing trend that could presage an adverse event.’
    portend, augur, foreshadow, foretell, prophesy, be an omen of, herald, be a sign of, be the harbinger of, be a warning of, give a warning of, warn of, be an indication of, indicate, be a presage of, signal, bode, announce, promise, threaten
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    1. 1.1archaic (of a person) predict.
      ‘lands he could measure, terms and tides presage’
      • ‘We may speculate too whether they will presage anything very different from what was said.’
      • ‘Repeatedly the disasters he presaged were less troubling than I had feared.’


  • 1A sign or warning that something, typically something bad, will happen; an omen or portent.

    ‘the fever was a somber presage of his final illness’
    • ‘These images also act as a presage of impending catastrophe.’
    • ‘Nonsense, this is a brilliant album and a presage of success.’
    • ‘Many people thought that the overly saccharine speech that Teri gave last episode was a stone-cold presage to her death.’
    • ‘The imminent rain brought dire presages into his mind, making him shiver uncontrollably.’
    • ‘Parents' groups, always on the lookout for something to blame other than the actual parents for the problems with kids, latched onto it as the latest presage of the decline and fall of western civilization.’
    • ‘Perhaps this morning was a promise of beauty yet to come, a presage of what we can expect later on this week.’
    • ‘For this is both a presage of the future, reflected in her grave and silent face as she supports his little body, and the epitome of what it is to be a mother.’
    • ‘He fixed his eyes on her, wondering again if he was witnessing what could very well be a presage of his own fate.’
    • ‘This act of rebellion was but a presage of things to come, as David, after graduating in 1965, left Detroit for the East Coast.’
    • ‘Aware of dire presages connected to the coming of a solar eclipse, he sought to avert the impending dangers; but he died at dawn on May 21, 1639.’
    omen, sign, indication, portent, warning, forewarning, harbinger, foreshadowing, augury, signal, promise, threat, ill omen, forecast, prediction, prognostication, prophecy, straw in the wind, writing on the wall, hint
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    1. 1.1archaic A feeling of presentiment or foreboding.
      ‘he had a strong presage that he had only a very short time to live’
      • ‘Terrified by her presage of death, the patient immediately contacted Mitchell for a series of consultations.’
      • ‘Also, as I have been informed, he had a presage before he first attempted it, which did foresee it would turn to his ruin.’
      premonition, foreboding, intuition, feeling, hunch, suspicion, sneaking suspicion, feeling in one's bones, funny feeling, vague feeling, inkling, idea, sixth sense
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Late Middle English (as a noun): via French from Latin praesagium, from praesagire ‘forebode’, from prae ‘before’ + sagire ‘perceive keenly’.