augury

augural, adj.
/aw"gyeuh ree/, n., pl. auguries.
1. the art or practice of an augur; divination.
2. the rite or ceremony of an augur.
3. an omen, token, or indication.
[1325-75; ME < L augurium soothsaying, equiv. to augur AUGUR + -ium -IUM]

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      prophetic divining of the future by observation of natural phenomena—particularly the behaviour of birds and animals and the examination of their entrails and other parts, but also by scrutiny of man-made objects and situations. The term derives from the official Roman augurs, whose constitutional function was not to foretell the future but to discover whether or not the gods approved of a proposed course of action, especially political or military. Two types of divinatory sign, or omen, were recognized: the most important was that deliberately watched for, such as lightning, thunder, flights and cries of birds, or the pecking behaviour of sacred chickens; of less moment was that which occurred casually, such as the unexpected appearance of animals sacred to the gods—the bear (Artemis), wolf (Apollo), eagle (Zeus), serpent (Asclepius), and owl (Minerva), for instance—or such other mundane signs as the accidental spilling of salt, sneezing, stumbling, or the creaking of furniture.

      The prophetic art is age-old; the practice of augury is well substantiated in the Bible. Cicero's (Cicero, Marcus Tullius) De divinatione (Concerning Divination), dated probably 44 BC, provides the best source on ancient divinatory practices. Both he and Plato distinguish between augury that can be taught and augury that is divinely inspired in ecstatic trance. In China for millennia many have sought the counsel of the I Ching (Yijing) (“Book of Changes”) before taking important action. This book interprets the hexagram created by the tossing of yarrow stalks. Among the vast number of sources of augury, each with its own specialist jargon and ritual, were atmospheric phenomena (aeromancy), cards (cartomancy), dice or lots (cleromancy), dots and other marks on paper (geomancy), fire and smoke (pyromancy), the shoulder blades of animals (scapulimancy), entrails of sacrificed animals (haruspicy), or their livers, which were considered to be the seat of life (hepatoscopy).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Augury — Au gu*ry, n.; pl. {Auguries}. [L. aucurium.] 1. The art or practice of foretelling events by observing the actions of birds, etc.; divination. [1913 Webster] 2. An omen; prediction; prognostication; indication of the future; presage. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Augury — Allgemeine Informationen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • augury — [n1] omen auspice, boding, forerunner, foretoken, forewarning, harbinger, herald, portent, precursor, presage, prognostication, promise, prophecy, sign, token, warning; concept 284 augury [n2] prediction divination, prediction, prophecy,… …   New thesaurus

  • augury — index caution (warning), caveat, harbinger, indicant, indication, indicator, precursor, premonition …   Law dictionary

  • augury — late 14c., divination from the flight of birds, from O.Fr. augure divination, soothsaying, sorcery, enchantment, or directly from L. augurium divination, the observation and interpretation of omens (see AUGUR (Cf. augur)). Figurative sense of… …   Etymology dictionary

  • augury — omen, portent, presage, prognostic, *foretoken Analogous words: *sign, symptom, token, note, badge, mark: precursor, *forerunner, harbinger, herald Contrasted words: fulfillment, accomplishment, effecting or effect (see corresponding verbs at… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • augury — ► NOUN (pl. auguries) 1) an omen. 2) the interpretation of omens …   English terms dictionary

  • augury — [ô′gyo͞o rē, ô′gyərē] n. [ME augurie < L augurium, divination < augur, AUGUR] 1. divination from omens 2. pl. auguries an omen; portent; indication …   English World dictionary

  • augury — UK [ˈɔːɡjʊrɪ] / US [ˈɔɡjərɪ] noun Word forms augury : singular augury plural auguries literary 1) [countable] a sign of what may happen in the future 2) [uncountable] the skill or practice of telling what may happen in the future …   English dictionary

  • augury — [[t]ɔ͟ːgjʊri[/t]] auguries N COUNT An augury is a sign of what will happen in the future. [LITERARY] The auguries of death are fast gathering round his head. Syn: omen …   English dictionary

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