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2017 Word of the Year

ominous

[om-uh-nuh s] /ˈɒm ə nəs/
adjective
1.
portending evil or harm; foreboding; threatening; inauspicious:
an ominous bank of dark clouds.
2.
indicating the nature of a future event, for good or evil; having the significance of an omen; being a portent:
Some of these events were immediately ominous, while others only later revealed themselves as such.
Origin of ominous
1580-1590
1580-90; < Latin ōminōsus portentous, equivalent to ōmin- (stem of ōmen) omen + -ōsus -ous
Related forms
ominously, adverb
ominousness, noun
unominous, adjective
unominously, adverb
unominousness, noun
Synonyms
Ominous, portentous, threatening, menacing, fateful are adjectives describing that which forebodes a serious, significant, and often harmful outcome. Ominous, derived from omen “a predictor of outcomes,” usually suggests evil or damaging eventualities: ominous storm clouds; an ominous silence. Portentous, although it may suggest evil results, often stresses a momentous or very important outcome: a portentous moment in history; a portentous escalation of hostilities. Threatening may suggest calamity or great harm but sometimes mere unpleasantness: a threatening rumble from the volcano; A threatening look from his brother caused him to quickly change the subject. Menacing always suggests serious damage as an outcome: a disease menacing the entire population; He advanced with a menacing swagger. Fateful most often stresses the great or decisive importance of what it describes: a fateful encounter between two future leaders; a fateful day that changed our world.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for ominous
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The spectacle as night fell was strange, ominous, but not unpicturesque.

    The Story of the Malakand Field Force Sir Winston S. Churchill
  • It seemed an extraordinary thing, an ominous object, a sign.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • At this ominous sight, I instinctively seized the bitts for protection.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • This made all the inhabitants of that melancholy and ominous apartment.

    Leila, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • An ominous leave-taking was his, and calamity was there to greet him home again.

    Old Greek Folk Stories Told Anew Josephine Preston Peabody
British Dictionary definitions for ominous

ominous

/ˈɒmɪnəs/
adjective
1.
foreboding evil
2.
serving as or having significance as an omen
Derived Forms
ominously, adverb
ominousness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin ōminōsus, from omen
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ominous
adj.

1580s, from Latin ominosus "full of foreboding," from omen (genitive ominis) "foreboding" (see omen). Related: Ominousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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