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[awr-uh-kuh l, or-] /ˈɔr ə kəl, ˈɒr-/
(especially in ancient Greece) an utterance, often ambiguous or obscure, given by a priest or priestess at a shrine as the response of a god to an inquiry.
the agency or medium giving such responses.
a shrine or place at which such responses were given:
the oracle of Apollo at Delphi.
a person who delivers authoritative, wise, or highly regarded and influential pronouncements.
a divine communication or revelation.
any person or thing serving as an agency of divine communication.
any utterance made or received as authoritative, extremely wise, or infallible.
oracles, the Scriptures.
the holy of holies of the Temple built by Solomon in Jerusalem. I Kings 6:16, 19–23.
Origin of oracle
1350-1400; Middle English < Old French < Latin ōrāculum, equivalent to ōrā(re) to plead (see oration) + -culum -cle2
Can be confused
auricle, oracle. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for oracles
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I had fancied that the oracles were all silent, and nature had spent her fires; and behold!

    Essays, Second Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • This is the effect on us of tropes, fables, oracles, and all poetic forms.

    Essays, Second Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Even the most barbarous people were not without their oracles.

    The Phantom World Augustin Calmet
  • The manner in which the oracles were rendered was not everywhere the same.

    The Phantom World Augustin Calmet
  • "What is a physician if he talk not in the language of oracles," he said, querulously.

    The Lion's Brood

    Duffield Osborne
  • The observation was somewhat vague, like other oracles' speeches.

    A Houseful of Girls Sarah Tytler
  • The reason for this I shall now set forth, having read all the oracles in question.

    Procopius Procopius
  • Other texts enable us to study the form of the oracles themselves.

  • These oracles, it so happens, all issue from the goddess Ishtar of Arbela.

British Dictionary definitions for oracles


plural noun
another term for Scripture (sense 1)


a prophecy, often obscure or allegorical, revealed through the medium of a priest or priestess at the shrine of a god
a shrine at which an oracular god is consulted
an agency through which a prophecy is transmitted
any person or thing believed to indicate future action with infallible authority
a statement believed to be infallible and authoritative
  1. a message from God
  2. the holy of holies in the Israelite temple
See also oracles
Word Origin
C14: via Old French from Latin ōrāculum, from ōrāre to request
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 oracles



late 14c., "a message from a god, expressed by divine inspiration," from Old French oracle "temple, house of prayer; oracle" (12c.) and directly from Latin oraculum "divine announcement, oracle; place where oracles are given," from orare "pray, plead" (see orator), with material instrumental suffix -culo-. In antiquity, "the agency or medium of a god," also "the place where such divine utterances were given." This sense is attested in English from c.1400.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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