• synonyms


See more synonyms for looming on Thesaurus.com
  1. a mirage in which objects below the horizon seem to be raised above their true positions.
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Origin of looming

First recorded in 1620–30; loom2 + -ing1


  1. a hand-operated or power-driven apparatus for weaving fabrics, containing harnesses, lay, reed, shuttles, treadles, etc.
  2. the art or the process of weaving.
  3. the part of an oar between the blade and the handle.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to weave (something) on a loom.
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Origin of loom1

before 900; Middle English lome, Old English gelōma tool, implement. See heirloom


verb (used without object)
  1. to appear indistinctly; come into view in indistinct and enlarged form: The mountainous island loomed on the horizon.
  2. to rise before the vision with an appearance of great or portentous size: Suddenly a police officer loomed in front of him.
  3. to assume form as an impending event: A battle looms at the convention.
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  1. a looming appearance, as of something seen indistinctly at a distance or through a fog: the loom of a moraine directly in their path.
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Origin of loom2

First recorded in 1585–95; origin uncertain


See more synonyms for loom on Thesaurus.com
2. rear, tower.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for looming

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • But after that he was afraid no more of the looming bulks of the tepees.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • By his own admission he was against the law, a “crook,” and—the penitentiary was looming.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • Do not see in my words the looming of a momentous sensation.

  • Some of them tore down a side street, straight before the looming onrush.

    The Long Roll

    Mary Johnston

  • The Home Galaxy was looming large when they next stopped for observation.

    Islands of Space

    John W Campbell

British Dictionary definitions for looming


  1. an apparatus, worked by hand (hand loom) or mechanically (power loom), for weaving yarn into a textile
  2. the middle portion of an oar, which acts as a fulcrum swivelling in the rowlock
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Word Origin

C13 (meaning any kind of tool): variant of Old English gelōma tool; compare heirloom


verb (intr)
  1. to come into view indistinctly with an enlarged and often threatening aspect
  2. (of an event) to seem ominously close
  3. (often foll by over) (of large objects) to dominate or overhang
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  1. a rising appearance, as of something far away
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Word Origin

C16: perhaps from East Frisian lomen to move slowly


noun archaic, or dialect
  1. another name for diver (def. 3)
  2. any of various other birds, esp the guillemot
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Word Origin

C17: from Old Norse lomr
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

Word Origin and History for looming



weaving machine, Old English geloma "utensil, tool," from ge-, perfective prefix, + -loma, of unknown origin (cf. Old English andloman (plural) "apparatus, furniture"). Originally "implement or tool of any kind" (cf. heirloom); thus, "the penis" (c.1400-1600). Specific meaning "a machine in which yarn or thread is woven into fabric" is from c.1400.

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1540s, "to come into view largely and indistinctly," perhaps from a Scandinavian source (cf. dialectal Swedish loma, East Frisian lomen "move slowly"), perhaps a variant from the root of lame (adj.). Early used also of ships moving up and down. Figurative use from 1590s. Related: Loomed; looming.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper