ha·rus·pex | \hə-ˈrə-ˌspeks, ˈher-ə-, ˈha-rə- \
plural haruspices\hə-ˈrə-spə-ˌsēz \

Definition of haruspex 

: a diviner in ancient Rome basing his predictions on inspection of the entrails of sacrificial animals

Did You Know?

Haruspex was formed in Latin by the combination of "haru-" (which is akin to "chordē," the Greek word for "gut") and "-spex" (from the verb specere, meaning "to look"). Appropriately, "haruspex" can be roughly defined as "one who looks at guts." The ancient Romans had a number of ways of determining whether the gods approved of a particular course of action. Such divination was called "augury," and a haruspex was a type of "augur," an official diviner of ancient Rome. (Other augurs divined the will of the gods through slightly less gruesome means, such as observing the behavior of birds or tracking celestial phenomena.) "Haruspex," like "augur," has developed a general sense of "one who prophesies," but this use is somewhat rare.

First Known Use of haruspex

1584, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for haruspex

Latin, from haru- (akin to chordē gut, cord) + -spex, from specere to look — more at yarn, spy

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about haruspex

Listen to Our Podcast about haruspex

Statistics for haruspex

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for haruspex

The first known use of haruspex was in 1584

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on haruspex

See words that rhyme with haruspex

Comments on haruspex

What made you want to look up haruspex? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!