Everyday Life Religion


to give promise of : presage

Auguring is what augurs did in ancient Rome. These were official diviners whose function it was, not to foretell the future, but to divine whether the gods approved of a proposed undertaking, such as a military move. They did so by various means, among them observing the behavior of birds and examining the intestines of sacrificed animals. Nowadays, of course, when we use the extended senses of ‘indicate’ and ‘promise,’ auguring is done from other signs. The verb is often used with an adverb, such as ‘well,’ as in ‘high investment returns augured well for Paul’s early retirement.’ ‘Augur’ comes from Latin and is related to the Latin verb ‘augere,’ meaning ‘to increase.’ The exact nature of the connection between ‘augur’ and ‘augere’ is lost in obscurity, however.

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