aus·​pi·​cious ȯ-ˈspi-shəs How to pronounce auspicious (audio)
: showing or suggesting that future success is likely : propitious
made an auspicious beginning
Such an auspicious start might have brought only honor and further triumph, but a witches' brew of scientific contentiousness, the temper of the times, and quirks in Dubois's own psyche soon derailed any pleasant development and turned Dubois's bounty into bitterness.Stephen Jay Gould
: attended by good auspices : fortunate, prosperous
an auspicious year
… a festival that takes place during the hottest months of spring, just before the monsoon rains, and that is considered an auspicious time for weddings.Cynthia Gorney
In days of old, seers entered a trance state and then informed anxious seekers what kind of mood the gods were in, and whether this was an auspicious time to begin a journey, get married, or start a war.Harvey Cox
auspiciously adverb
auspiciousness noun

Did you know?

The Origin of Auspicious Is for the Birds

Some word knowledge to crow about in your next tweetstorm: auspicious comes from Latin auspex, which literally means “bird seer” (from the words avis, meaning “bird,” and specere, meaning “to look at”). In ancient Rome, these “bird seers” were priests or augurs who studied the flight and feeding patterns of birds, then delivered prophecies based on their observations. The right combination of bird behavior indicated favorable conditions, but the wrong patterns spelled trouble. The English noun auspice, which originally referred to this practice of observing birds to discover omens, also comes from Latin auspex. Today, the plural form auspices is often used with the meaning “kindly support and guidance.”

Choose the Right Synonym for auspicious

favorable, auspicious, propitious mean pointing toward a happy outcome.

favorable implies that the persons involved are approving or helpful or that the circumstances are advantageous.

favorable weather conditions

auspicious applies to something taken as a sign or omen promising success before or at the start of an event.

an auspicious beginning

propitious may also apply to beginnings but often implies a continuing favorable condition.

a propitious time for starting a business

Examples of auspicious in a Sentence

After his auspicious debut, Chambers became sought after by serious collectors of folk art; but given that the present show is now only the second he has had and is the first retrospective look at him, he is probably as obscure to the general museum going public today as he was in 1942. Sanford Schwartz, New York Review of Books, 15 Jan. 2009
There is, first of all, Marconi himself, the 21-year-old prodigy who burst on London with his gizmo in 1896. This wasn't the most auspicious moment for a half-Irish, half-Italian unknown to announce that he had bested some of the empire's greatest scientific minds. Kevin Baker, New York Times Book Review, 5 Nov. 2006
Indeed, it hardly seems like an auspicious time to introduce a brand of cigarettes, especially for tiny Star, which accounts for just over 1 percent of the U.S. market with its four brands of discount smokes. David Noonan, Newsweek, 16 Oct. 2000
His acclaimed first novel was an auspicious debut. told him she couldn't dance with him just then, but her auspicious smile encouraged him to ask again later
Recent Examples on the Web Some pilgrimages focus on a single day, others a season, a month, an auspicious alignment of the stars. Aatish Taseer, New York Times, 9 Nov. 2023 There’s broader market evidence suggesting that Spatial’s move could be an auspicious one. WIRED, 9 Nov. 2023 For the woman eyeing an auspicious beginning Whether used as a centerpiece or just an eye-catching objet d’art, this 2.5-inch crystal butterfly from the French luxury brand will add a touch of whimsy to her space. Sarah Grossbart,, 9 Nov. 2023 After this less than auspicious start, my hopes were even higher for my engagement on Saturday night: an invite-only house party held by some very rich Swedish guy who one of my friends happens to DJ for and managed to wrangle me into a month ago. Emma Specter, Vogue, 31 Oct. 2023 But the annual crush of such fare has an auspicious kickoff date with Friday the 13th falling this month, with the modern addition of Hallo-streams to help provoke Hallo-screams. Brian Lowry, CNN, 13 Oct. 2023 Warren had an auspicious career: Among his landmark opinions are Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia, two watersheds for racial justice. Steven P. Dinkin, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 Oct. 2023 Fortune picked an auspicious day to hold its CEO Initiative in Washington. Alan Murray, Fortune, 4 Oct. 2023 But his book arrives at an auspicious moment when public conversation about privilege and opportunity is long on statistics and policy papers but short on first-person accounts. Norman Vanamee, Town & Country, 3 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'auspicious.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see auspice

First Known Use

1593, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of auspicious was in 1593


Dictionary Entries Near auspicious

Cite this Entry

“Auspicious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


aus·​pi·​cious ȯ-ˈspish-əs How to pronounce auspicious (audio)
: promising success : favorable
an auspicious beginning
: successful sense 1, prosperous
has been an auspicious year
auspiciously adverb
auspiciousness noun

from Latin auspicium "reading the future from the flight of birds" and English -ous (adjective suffix)

Word Origin
In ancient Rome the flight of birds was thought to be a sign from the gods. If a bird swooped down or soared up, it might mean good or bad luck for a person. But only special people were thought to be able to read these signs. Such a person was called in Latin an auspex, meaning literally "bird observer." The word was formed from Latin avis, meaning "bird," and the Latin verb specere, meaning "to see." The art of predicting the future in this way came to be called auspicium. A reading of bird actions was taken each time a person or the state was about to take an important step, such as marriage, a new business, or war. The word was taken into English by borrowing the Latin stem auspici- of auspicium and adding the adjective suffix -ous. Although auspicium could mean either good news or bad news, when auspicious came to be used in English, it was always used of something favorable.

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