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From Latin ominosus (full of foreboding), from omen (forbidden fruit, omen), from os (the mouth) + -men.



ominous (comparative more ominous, superlative most ominous)

  1. Of or pertaining to an omen or to omens; being or exhibiting an omen; significant.
    • 1911, James George Frazer, The Golden Bough, volume 9, page 324:
      In Cornouaille, Brittany, it is popularly believed that the weather of the last six days of December and the first six of January prognosticates the weather of the twelve months; but in other parts of Brittany it is the first twelve days of January that are supposed to be ominous of the weather for the year.
  2. Specifically, giving indication of a coming ill; being an evil omen
    Synonyms: threatening, portentous, inauspicious
    • California poll support for Jerry Brown's tax increases has ominous implications for U.S. taxpayers too Los Angeles Times Headline April 25, 2011
    • 2012 April 29, Nathan Rabin, “TV: Review: THE SIMPSONS (CLASSIC): “Treehouse of Horror III” (season 4, episode 5; originally aired 10/29/1992)”, in (Please provide the book title or journal name)[1]:
      The idea of a merchant selling both totems of pure evil and frozen yogurt (he calls it frogurt!) is amusing in itself, as is the idea that frogurt could be cursed, but it’s really the Shopkeeper’s quicksilver shift from ominous doomsaying to chipper salesmanship that sells the sequence.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Formerly used both in a favorable and unfavorable sense; now chiefly in the latter; foreboding or foreshadowing evil; inauspicious; as, an ominous dread.


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