omen

omen, sign or augury believed to foreshadow the future. Almost any occurrence can be interpreted as an omen. The typical omen was a natural phenomenon, such as a meteor, an eclipse, or the flight of birds. Among the Greeks and Romans the interpretation of omens was a major part of religious life and required trained priests, such as the Roman augur, to explain the meaning of the signs. Belief in omens still survives in superstitions concerning such things as black cats, nightmares, unlucky days, and breaking mirrors.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on omen from Fact Monster:

  • Birds as Symbols and Omens - Birds as Symbols and Omens From ancient times to the present, certain birds have been considered ...
  • augur - augur: augur: see omen.
  • Animal Behavior - Animal Behavior Where in the World Do Animals Live? Scavengers Animal Senses Animal Communication ...
  • Richard Donner - Richard Donner director, producer Born: 1939 Birthplace: New York City An actor who later directed ...
  • comet - comet comet [Gr.,=longhaired], a small celestial body consisting mostly of dust and gases that ...

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Religion: General