Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ominous: M-W's Word of the Day

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day
Word of the Day
December 29
\AH-muh-nus\   Audio Pronunciation
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: being or exhibiting an omen : portentous; especially : foreboding or foreshadowing evil : inauspicious
Example Sentence
Our fears about the picnic being cancelled were heightened by the sight of dark, ominous clouds appearing over the horizon.
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Did you know?
"Ominous" didn't always mean "foreshadowing evil." If you look closely, you can see the "omen" in "ominous," which gave it the original meaning of "presaging events to come" — whether good or bad. It is ultimately derived from the Latin word "omen," which is both an ancestor and a synonym of our "omen." Today, however, "ominous" tends to suggest a menacing or threatening aspect. Its synonyms "portentous" and "fateful" are used similarly, but "ominous" is the most menacing of the three. It implies an alarming character that foreshadows evil or disaster. "Portentous" suggests being frighteningly big or impressive, but seldom gives a definite forewarning of calamity. "Fateful" implies that something is of momentous or decisive importance.
*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.
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