The Meaning of Ominous: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of ominous? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word ominous, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word ominous mean?

According to Merriam-Webster, Collins English Dictionary, and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word ominous is an adjective that means being or exhibiting an omen, especially one that forebodes or foreshadows evil. This thing could be a portentous moment and inauspicious. Many things can be ominous, including an ominous silence, ominous dread, ominous storm clouds, and more. Ominous is three syllables – om-i-nous, and the pronunciation of ominous is ˈɑmənəs. This word has a negative connotation.

Many different languages have their own translations of ominous. You may notice that in the below list of translations from Word Sense, many of these translations of ominous look and sound similar to the word ominous. These are called cognates, which are formed when two words have the same language of origin or root. 

  •  Ukrainian: зловіщий‎ (zlovíščyj)
  •  Dutch: onheilspellend‎
  •  Swedish: illavarslande‎, olycksbådande‎
  •  Estonian: kurjakuulutav‎, pahaendeline‎
  •  Portuguese: agourento‎ (masc.)
  •  Hungarian: baljós‎, baljóslatú‎
  •  Danish: ildevarslende‎, uheldsvanger‎
  •  Czech: zlověstný‎
  •  Catalan: ominós‎
  •  Maori: tamaki‎
  •  Telugu: అశుభసూచకమైన‎ (aSubhasoocakamaina)
  •  Italian: malaugurante‎, infausto‎ (masc.), nefasto‎ (masc.)
  •  Spanish: ominoso‎ (masc.), ominosa‎ (fem.)
  •  Georgian: ავბედი‎
  •  Polish: złowróżbny‎, złowieszczy‎
  •  French: de mauvais augure‎
  •  Russian: злове́щий‎
  •  Armenian: չարագուշակ‎
  •  German: unheilsschwanger‎, verhängnisvoll‎, unheilvoll‎, unheilbringend‎
  •  Finnish: pahaenteinen‎, uhkaava‎
  •  Turkish: uğursuz‎, meşum‎, kara‎
  •  Romanian: fatidic‎, de rău augur‎

What are synonyms and antonyms of the word ominous?

There are a plethora of different words that can be used in place of the word ominous. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition or meaning as another given word or phrase. Learning synonyms is a great way to avoid repeating yourself and an easy way to expand your vocabulary. This list of synonyms of ominous is provided by Thesaurus.

  •  gloomy
  •  prescient
  •  inhospitable
  •  dark
  •  ill-boding
  •  doomful
  •  apocalyptic
  •  dangerous
  •  baneful
  •  inauspicious
  •  precursive
  •  unpromising
  •  foreboding
  •  augural
  •  threatening
  •  hostile
  •  unfriendly
  •  fateful
  •  grim
  •  haunting
  •  sinister
  •  portentous
  •  ill-fated
  •  malificent
  •  clouded
  •  unlucky
  •  malefic
  •  minatory
  •  lowering
  •  dire
  •  suggestive
  •  menacing
  •  presaging
  •  fearful
  •  forbidding
  •  unpropitious
  •  perilous
  •  doomed
  •  direful
  •  dismal
  •  prophetic
  •  malign
  •  baleful
  •  impending
  •  premonitory

There are also numerous different words with the opposite meaning of ominous. These opposite words are called antonyms, and are another quick and easy way to expand your vocabulary. This list of antonyms is also provided by Thesaurus.

  •  at ease
  •  high
  •  rosy
  •  satisfied
  •  looking forward to
  •  emboldened
  •  rose-colored
  •  content
  •  confident
  •  trusting
  •  keeping the faith
  •  enthusiastic
  •  unflagging
  •  anticipating
  •  blithe
  •  buoyant
  •  trustful
  •  inspirited
  •  eager
  •  expecting
  •  sanguine
  •  elated
  •  lighthearted
  •  calm
  •  hopeful
  •  assured
  •  anticipative
  •  hoping
  •  upbeat
  •  comfortable
  •  optimistic
  •  reassured
  •  faithful
  •  cheerful
  •  forward-looking
  •  serene

How can the word ominous be used in a sentence?

The word ominous can be used in many different ways in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definitions. You can also make flashcards and quizzes for yourself to test your knowledge of different definitions. Try using the word ominous in a sentence today! Below are several examples to get your started.

The ominous bank of dark clouds and threatening rumble in the distance predicted the sinister storm clouds that would roll into town. The ugly black clouds soon arrived, the thunderclouds clapping and causing a torrential downpour.

The growl of the volcano was ominous. It had not gone off in centuries, but the island’s residents worried this was one of many ill omens that great harm would soon come on a fateful day not too far away.

Ominous rumblings of discontent began when pay was cut at the company. These ill predictions were met with a threatening look from management – a sinister smile that was predictive of threatening behavior. The CEO knew this was of decisive importance, and that there would be an important outcome. He hoped the tragic developments did not make the media.

The psychic gave the woman an ominous reading filled with ill fortune. Her heartbeat sped up and she saw skeletal forms in the dim lighting. She vowed not to let the ominous sense she left the reading with be the difference-maker for the future.

The ominous voice on the other end of the phone threatened the future leaders on their retreat. This was supposed to be a feel-good season, but the strange calls and other ominous elements at the cabin made it feel less like heaven and more like a horror film.

People complained that the ad was too ominous. However, David’s constructions were entirely by design. He was trying to make the advertisement convey that time was running out to save the planet and we needed to act now to end climate change. 

What is the origin of the word ominous?

According to Etymonline, the word ominous has been used to mean conveying an omen since the 1580s Middle English. This comes from the Latin ōminōsus or Latin ominosus meaning foreboding, from the Latin omen or ōmen and genitive ominous. This is also where we get the related word omen (n.). Related words can be formed by adding the suffixes ly and ness to make ominously (adv.) and ominousness (n.)

Overall, the word ominous means predictive of an omen, or having the character of an evil omen. This is usually used with a negative implication to predict some unfavorable sense, calamity, omens, harmful outcome or serious damage. The significance of an omen or fateful encounter could range from mere unpleasantness to a predictor of outcomes or eventualities with evil results.


  1. ominous: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. OMINOUS Synonyms: 60 Synonyms & Antonyms for OMINOUS | Thesaurus 
  3. HOPEFUL Synonyms: 134 Synonyms & Antonyms for HOPEFUL | Thesaurus 
  4. ominous | Origin and meaning of ominous | Online Etymology Dictionary  
  5. Ominous | Definition of Ominous | Merriam-Webster