[ om-uh-nuhs ]
/ ˈɒm ə nəs /


portending evil or harm; foreboding; threatening; inauspicious: an ominous bank of dark clouds.
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.



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Origin of ominous

First recorded in 1580–90; from Latin ōminōsus “portentous,” equivalent to ōmin- (stem of ōmen ) + -ōsus; see origin at omen, -ous

synonym study for ominous

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: 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.

OTHER WORDS FROM ominous Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for ominous

  • Despite the ominousness of the times, Mercer continued with the daily routine, the minutiae of which filled his journal.

  • That face once seen could never be forgotten, and he was overcome by the ominousness of the meeting.

    The False Chevalier|William Douw Lighthall
  • Too ominous, Mr. Moore thought: let ominousness be kept for one's attitude towards crime.

    East Angels|Constance Fenimore Woolson
  • To him, as to his mother, the circumstance had at once conveyed a suggestion of ominousness, a hint of possible evil tidings.

British Dictionary definitions for ominous

/ (ˈɒmɪnəs) /


foreboding evil
serving as or having significance as an omen

Derived forms of ominous

ominously, adverbominousness, noun

Word Origin for ominous

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