Definition of haruspex
: a diviner in ancient Rome basing his predictions on inspection of the entrails of sacrificial animals
haruspex was our Word of the Day on 09/14/2011. Hear the podcast!
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.
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