Moby-Dick: Portentous


  1. having forewarning properties of fear
  2. something to be feared
  3. indicating something is a bad omen

The word portentous appears in the following sentences from Moby-Dick:

Chapter 1 > Paragraph 14 > Sentence 2:

Such a portentous and mysterious monster roused all my curiosity.

Chapter 3 > Paragraph 2 > Sentence 1:

But what most puzzled and confounded you was a long, limber, portentous, black mass of something hovering in the centre of the picture over three blue, dim, perpendicular lines floating in a nameless yeast.

Chapter 3 > Paragraph 2 > Sentence 5:

But last all these fancies yielded to that one portentous something in the picture's midst.

Chapter 34 > Paragraph 8 > Sentence 4:

Such portentous appetites had Queequeg and Tashtego, that to fill out the vacancies made by the previous repast, often the pale Dough-Boy was fain to bring on a great baron of salt-junk, seemingly quarried out of the solid ox.

Chapter 42 > Paragraph 25 > Sentence 1:

But not yet have we solved the incantation of this whiteness, and learned why it appeals with such power to the soul; and more strange and far more portentous—why, as we have seen, it is at once the most meaning symbol of spiritual things, nay, the very veil of the Christian's Deity; and yet should be as it is, the intensifying agent in things the most appalling to mankind.

Chapter 74 > Paragraph 12 > Sentence 1:

But come out now, and look at this portentous lower jaw, which seems like the long narrow lid of an immense snuff-box, with the hinge at one end, instead of one side.

Concordance for the word portentous from Moby-Dick.

Herman Melville
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