Simple Definition of ominous
: suggesting that something bad is going to happen in the future
Examples of ominous in a sentence
Not many sets of initials became universally recognizable during the twentieth century, and those that did often had ominous overtones, from SS to KGB. —Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Atlantic, March 2001
While politicians and multinational corporations extol the virtues of NAFTA … the ominous curtain is already up in a six-mile section at the border crossing at Mexicali … —Leslie Marmon Silko, Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit, 1996
Fighting against sensations that sought to claim him, he moved nervously and the note in his hand rattled with a dry and ominous whisper. —Richard Wright, Rite of Passage, 1994
Arranged in two long and ominous rows, the branding irons dangled from the ceiling in the center of the room, suggesting some sort of fence or jail … —Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, May 1993
an ominous threat of war
He spoke in ominous tones.
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.
Origin and Etymology of ominous
First Known Use: 1580
Synonym Discussion of ominous
OMINOUS Defined for Kids
Definition of ominous for Students
: considered a sign of evil or trouble to come <… the clouds there seemed to be growing darker, massing in ominous grey mounds with a yellowish tinge. — Susan Cooper, The Dark is Rising>
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up ominous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).