Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
March 28th, 2016
Episode 487 of 797 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 28, 2016 is: auspicious \aw-SPISH-us\ adjective 1 : showing or suggesting that future success is likely : propitious 2 : attended by good fortune : prosperous Examples: Being nominated for four awards, including Best Picture, the movie proved to be an auspicious start to his directing career. "In Chinese lobster is called 'long xia,' or dragon prawn, which has anauspiciousring to it." — The Economist, 13 Feb. 2016 Did you know? Auspicious comes from Latin auspex, which literally means "bird seer" (from the words avis, meaning "bird," and specere, meaning "to look at"). In ancient Rome, these "bird seers" were priests, or augurs, who studied the flight and feeding patterns of birds, then delivered prophecies based on their observations. The right combination of bird behavior indicated favorable conditions, but the wrong patterns spelled trouble. The English noun auspice, which originally referred to this practice of observing birds to discover omens, also comes from Latin auspex. Today, the plural form auspices is often used with the meaning "kindly patronage and guidance."