What is Ominatio?

Ominatio (etymologically from Latin, literally “a prognostication of evil”) is a figure which consists when we prophesy and foretell of what evil shall hereafter come to pass.

The trope “ominatio,” is similar in meaning to the English word “ominous” which is derived from the noun “omen”. Ominatio is often used by Orators to invoke emotional appeals upon the audience’s fear of something bad happening in the future.

PeachamOpens in new window, describing this figure, in his ‘Garden of Eloquence’ offered thus: “By this figure the Orator forsheweth beggary to the slothful, shame to the proud, mischief to the quarreller, and the gallowes to the thiefe”.

Classic Example

  1. Fool:
    When priests are more in word than matter;
    When brewers mar their malt with water;
    When nobles are their tailors' tutors;
    No heretics burn'd, but wenches' suitors;
    Then shall the realm of Albion
    Come to great confusion.

    — (Shakespeare, King Lear 3.2. p. 80-86)

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