Meaning of “read the runes” in the English Dictionary

british dictionary

"read the runes" in British English

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read the runes

UK literary

to understand what will happen in the future, by looking at what is happening now:

He was the first of the Eastern leaders to read the runes and make political changes to stay in power.

(Definition of “read the runes” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)