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Observed phenomenon that is interpreted as signifying good or bad fortune. The many and varied omens that the ancients noted included lightning, cloud movements, the flights of birds, and the paths of sacred animals. Each type of omen was gauged according to specific meaningful characteristics, such as the kinds of bird in flight or the direction of flight in relation to the observer.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on omen, visit Britannica.com.