writing on the wall

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From the Biblical story in the Book of Daniel; mysterious writing on the wall during King Belshazzar's feast points to the downfall of the Babylonian Empire.


writing on the wall (countable and uncountable, plural writings on the wall)

  1. An ominous warning; a prediction of bad luck.
    He could see the writing on the wall months before the business failed.

Usage notes[edit]

  • As an uncountable noun, the phrase alludes to a vague set of ominous indications. As a countable noun, the singular refers to a specific warning.

See also[edit]