noun \ˈr-ə-kəl, ˈär-\

in ancient Greece : a person (such as a priestess) through whom a god was believed to speak

: the place (such as a shrine) where people went to ask questions of an oracle

: an answer or message given by an oracle

Full Definition of ORACLE

a :  a person (as a priestess of ancient Greece) through whom a deity is believed to speak
b :  a shrine in which a deity reveals hidden knowledge or the divine purpose through such a person
c :  an answer or decision given by an oracle
a :  a person giving wise or authoritative decisions or opinions
b :  an authoritative or wise expression or answer

Examples of ORACLE

  1. I met her long before she had become the oracle of pop culture.

Origin of ORACLE

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin oraculum, from orare to speak — more at oration
First Known Use: 15th century

Other Religion (Eastern and Other) Terms

Zen, antinomian, avatar, gnosticism, illuminati, ineffable, karma, koan, mantra

Rhymes with ORACLE


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Source of a divine communication delivered in response to a petitioner's request. Ancient Greece and Rome had many oracles. The most famous was that of Apollo at Delphi, where the medium was a woman over 50 called the Pythia. After bathing in the Castalian spring, she apparently would descend into a basement cell, mount a sacred tripod, and chew the leaves of the laurel, sacred to Apollo. Her utterances, which were often highly ambiguous, were interpreted by priests. Other oracles, including those at Claros (Apollo), Amphicleia (Dionysus), Olympia (Zeus), and Epidaurus (Asclepius), were consulted through various other methods; for example, the oldest of the oracles, that of Zeus at Dodona, spoke through the whispering of the leaves of a sacred oak. At some shrines, the inquirer would sleep in the holy precinct and receive an answer in a dream.


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