omen(redirected from Portent (divination))
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handwriting on the wall A portent or prophecy of disaster, a sign of impending and unavoidable doom, an indication or sense of what is to come; often the writing on the wall. The allusion is to the Book of Daniel in the Bible, in which a hand mysteriously appeared and wrote a message on Balshazzar’s palace wall foretelling his destruction and the loss of his kingdom.
my little finger told me that Pain or pleasurable sensation in the fingers was considered by the ancient Roman augurs a sign of evil or joy to come. The pricking of one’s thumb was considered a portent of evil.
By the pricking of my thumbs Something wicked this way comes. (Shakespeare, Macbeth, IV, i)
Thus, one’s finger or thumb can be said to “tell” the future. Sometimes my little finger told me that is used to indicate that one has access to certain information, the source of which may be controversial and unscientific.
stormy petrel One whose arrival is seen as a harbinger of trouble. Stormy petrels (Procellaria pelágica) are the sea birds which sailors call Mother Carey’s chickens. Petrel is derived from the Italian Petrello ‘little Peter,’ in allusion to the way these birds appear to walk on the sea, just as St. Peter walked on the Lake of Gennesareth. Stormy petrels are most often observed just prior to and during a storm; thus, their arrival portends deteriorating weather conditions. The expression may now be applied to anyone whose coming is inevitably followed by disaster or tragedy.
Dr. von Esmarch is regarded at court as a stormy petrel, and every effort was made to conceal his visit to the German emperor. (The World, April, 1892)
See also Mother Carey is plucking her chickens, WEATHER.
weather breeder See WEATHER.
Past participle: omened
|Noun||1.||omen - a sign of something about to happen; "he looked for an omen before going into battle"|
augury, foretoken, preindication, sign - an event that is experienced as indicating important things to come; "he hoped it was an augury"; "it was a sign from God"
auspice - a favorable omen
foreboding - an unfavorable omen
death knell - an omen of death or destruction
|Verb||1.||omen - indicate by signs; "These signs bode bad news"|
augur, auspicate, bode, foreshadow, portend, presage, prognosticate, predict, prefigure, betoken, forecast, foretell
threaten - to be a menacing indication of something:"The clouds threaten rain"; "Danger threatens"
bespeak, betoken, indicate, signal, point - be a signal for or a symptom of; "These symptoms indicate a serious illness"; "Her behavior points to a severe neurosis"; "The economic indicators signal that the euro is undervalued"
foreshow - foretell by divine inspiration
"May the gods avert this omen" [Cicero Third Philippic]
"omen: a sign that something will happen if nothing happens" [Ambrose Bierce The Devil's Dictionary]