Vocabulary: Portention vs. Pretension

“Call and Response,” by Dan Chiasson. The New Yorker, 10/8/2018.

(Vocabulary postings are words or phrases I recently came across in reading, did not fully understand, looked up, and discovered something new.)

I came across portention in a sentence where the meaning for pretension would also work, so I assumed the more familiar later—until I looked it up. Portention is an omen of bad things about to happen. Pretension is putting on airs, ostentation.

Max Ritvo

The sentence was about a poet, Max Ritvo, trying to get rid of his portention: “it’s basically me shedding portention.” Until I looked it up, I assumed he was shedding his pretension.



About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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