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adjective om·i·nous \ˈä-mə-nəs\

Simple Definition of ominous

  • : suggesting that something bad is going to happen in the future

Full Definition of ominous

  1. :  being or exhibiting an omen :  portentous; especially :  foreboding or foreshadowing evil :  inauspicious

om·i·nous·ly adverb
om·i·nous·ness noun

Examples of ominous

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. an ominous threat of war

  6. He spoke in ominous tones.

Origin of ominous

(see omen)

First Known Use: 1580

Synonym Discussion of ominous

ominous, portentous, fateful mean having a menacing or threatening aspect. ominous implies having a menacing, alarming character foreshadowing evil or disaster <ominous rumblings from the volcano>. portentous suggests being frighteningly big or impressive but now seldom definitely connotes forewarning of calamity <an eerie and portentous stillness>. fateful suggests being of momentous or decisive importance <the fateful conference that led to war>.

OMINOUS Defined for Kids


adjective om·i·nous \ˈä-mə-nəs\

Definition of ominous

  1. :  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>

om·i·nous·ly adverb

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).


February 8, 2016

to clear from accusation or blame

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