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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 ominously
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • “There are individuals of character amongst that lot too,” muttered Ossipon ominously.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • She was with Helen, who had been ominously quiet since the affair was settled.

    Howards End E. M. Forster
  • "Kindly take back that word 'hangers-on,'" said Helen, ominously calm.

    Howards End E. M. Forster
  • "You will do as you consider best, of course," she had said, in a voice that was ominously sweet.

    St. Martin's Summer Rafael Sabatini
  • "Handsome is as handsome does," replied Mrs. Kemp, ominously.

    Pretty Madcap Dorothy Laura Jean Libbey
British Dictionary definitions for ominously

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 ominously
adv.

1590s, from ominous + -ly (2). In earliest use, "of good omen, auspicious;" meaning "of evil omen" first attested 1640s, in Milton.

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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