Word: augur

Pronunciation: AW-ɡər

Part of Speech: verb

Definition: (of an event or circumstance) portend a good or bad outcome

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

Here’s an interesting word I found while searching for a synonym for “foreshadow”. You may recognize today’s Word of the Week as part of another more familiar word (which I featured in this segment earlier this year), though their meanings are considerably different. While it’s not exactly common, I’m sure we could all find a use for this word now and then; in such an unpredictable world, the least we can hope for is to determine if current events will “augur” well or badly for the future!

To “augur” is to foreshadow a good or bad outcome. The word arose in late Middle English and is originally a Latin noun meaning “diviner”. This noun’s origin is uncertain, but it’s related to the verb augurare, which means “to predict”.

When used in its primary sense, “augur” should be followed by an adverb describing the predicted outcome (e.g. to “augur well” or “augur badly”), though it can also be followed by the prediction itself (e.g. to “augur the end of the war”). The word also functions as a historical noun; in Ancient Rome, an “augur” was “a religious official who observed natural signs, especially the behavior of birds, interpreting these as an indication of divine approval or disapproval of a proposed action”. It should not be confused with the noun “auger”, which means “a tool with a helical bit for boring holes in wood”. If your stories involve a lot of foreshadowing of good or bad events, “augur” may be an excellent addition to your vocabulary!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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