pro·​pi·​tious prə-ˈpi-shəs How to pronounce propitious (audio)
: favorably disposed : benevolent
: being a good omen : auspicious
propitious sign
: tending to favor : advantageous
propitiously adverb
propitiousness noun

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Propitious, which comes to us through Middle English from the Latin word propitius, is a synonym of favorable and auspicious. All three essentially mean "pointing toward a happy outcome," with some differences of emphasis. Favorable implies that someone or something involved in a situation is approving or helpful ("a favorable recommendation"), or that circumstances are advantageous ("favorable weather conditions"). Auspicious usually applies to a sign or omen that promises success before or at the start of an event ("an auspicious beginning"). Propitious may also apply to beginnings, but it often suggests a continuing promising condition ("propitious conditions for an alliance").

Choose the Right Synonym for propitious

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

Example Sentences

Now is a propitious time to start a business. the success of the first big movie in May was a propitious start for the summer season of blockbusters
Recent Examples on the Web Its objective is to free the vines from their confinement and spread them in an entourage propitious to the fullness of their faculties. Karen Lubeck, Town & Country, 8 Nov. 2022 The story of how Gio Ponti came to design a museum — or part of a museum — in Colorado is one of propitious timing. Los Angeles Times, 28 July 2022 The addition of a minority owner comes at a propitious time for the franchise. Jim Ingraham, Forbes, 17 June 2022 That propitious timing—plus four separate funding rounds in the span of 20 months—means Monte Carlo should be well capitalized to pursue its aim of improving the quality of data that other companies use to make decisions. Kevin Dowd, Forbes, 27 May 2022 All of which argues for international monetary reform, even though the timing might seem less than propitious. WSJ, 22 Apr. 2022 That long-running installation parades feats by American adepts—Edward Hopper, Alexander Calder, Jacob Lawrence, Willem de Kooning—along various routes, with propitious detours toward world-beating Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, and Minimalism. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 6 June 2022 Now seems like a propitious time to begin jettisoning reliance on Russia for any such technology, since the national defense strategy identifies Moscow as a major threat for the foreseeable future. Loren Thompson, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 Chamberlain has sometimes been defended for buying time until conditions were more propitious for Great Britain to fight, something implied at the end of Munich. Geoffrey Wheatcroft, The New Republic, 21 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'propitious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English propycyous, from Anglo-French propicius, from Latin propitius, probably from pro- for + petere to seek — more at pro-, feather

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of propitious was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near propitious

Cite this Entry

“Propitious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


pro·​pi·​tious prə-ˈpish-əs How to pronounce propitious (audio)
: giving favorable signs of the success of something to come : promising
a propitious first interview
: likely to produce good results
a propitious undertaking

More from Merriam-Webster on propitious

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