Word of the Day : September 14, 2011


noun huh-RUSS-peks


: 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.


The haruspex declared that the outcome of the battle would be favorable.

"The coroner-cum-haruspex will divine the mystery of her death, read the entrails of the bird that flew too far and too fast…." -- From an article by Violet LeVoit in the Baltimore City Paper, August 17, 2011

Word Family Quiz

What 7-letter relative of "haruspex" can mean "to examine closely"? The answer is ...


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