One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A priest or priestess acting as a medium through whom advice or prophecy was sought from the gods in classical antiquity.
- ‘Instead of the physicist, they consult an oracle.’
- ‘It was through clever interpretation of these signs that these oracles and prophets were able to frequently predict future events.’
- ‘This is not to say that I rely solely on the oracle's advice.’
- ‘In the trial of Socrates, as described by Plato, the oracle at Delphi proclaimed that there is no one wiser than Socrates.’
- ‘Legend holds that he was the son of Apollo, the Hellenic god of music and learning, and his birth was foretold by the oracle at Delphi.’
- ‘Another time Rutilianus consulted the oracle on the choice of a wife.’
- ‘Her priests and oracles are all being kept in the tower.’
- ‘Then I got interested in the history of oracles, how they actually worked in Ancient Greece and in different cultures.’
- ‘As Plutarch, who wrote a treatise on it early in the second century AD, was priest of a Delphi that was still busy with private and ritual enquiries, it is clear that the real subject was the oracle's loss of authority in political affairs.’
- ‘The first day saw the swearing-in of athletes, trainers and judges, after which athletes would make sacrifices to the gods and, if they wished, seek advice from oracles.’
- ‘He had no other choice now but to consult the oracles.’
- ‘But I think more important than the oracle at Delphi is Socrates' conviction that there is an inner prophetic voice speaking to him.’
- ‘The oracle's prophesy declares that Athens will one day conquer Thebes.’
- ‘The oracle was consulted by Achilles, Heracles and other mythological heroes.’
- ‘However, I consulted the oracles and stars, and I am certain that you are the one I need.’
- ‘The oracle told that the cure would come to Telephos by means of rust from the sword of the very Achilles who had wounded him.’
- ‘The Oedipus story's, I think, the grimmest of all oracle stories and it's the one where the freedom of the person consulting the oracle seems at its lowest degree.’
- ‘Convinced, the Chorus of women advises that the oracle of Apollo is the only person who can help Orestes.’
- ‘Poseidon and Athena were vying for control of Athens, and having consulted an oracle he advised that every Athenian should vote for their preference.’
- ‘Here, finally, we come to the heart of the difference between the oracles of the pagan Greeks of the classical period and the revelations of the prophets of the People of the Book.’
- 1.1 A place at which divine advice or prophecy was sought.
prophet, prophetess, sibyl, seer, augur, prognosticator, diviner, soothsayer, wise man, wise woman, sage, fortune tellerView synonyms
- ‘An oracle is a shrine or temple sanctuary consecrated to the worship and consultation of a prophetic god.’
- ‘Over the portal at the oracle in Delphi, Apollo's temple, there were two sayings - ‘Know thyself’ and ‘Nothing too much’.’
- ‘They were believed to communicate with priests and priestesses at shrines called oracles.’
- ‘He is represented with a bow, and is linked to the laurel tree, the leaves of which were used by his priestess at the oracle of Delphi.’
- 1.2 A person or thing regarded as an infallible authority on something.‘he reigned supreme as the Colonial Office's oracle on Africa’
authority, expert, specialist, pundit, guru, mentor, adviser, mastermind, connoisseurView synonyms
- ‘The oracle who is always consulted and cited on this subject is the celebrated Montesquieu.’
- ‘The mass media had appropriated the role of the historian as the oracle of the nation.’
- ‘Alternately, I might just do whatever it told me to do, perhaps on the grounds that, since an infallible oracle has told me that I will do this, I should resign myself to the inevitable.’
- ‘I decided to consult the oracle of all things, the industry expert that is not me.’
- ‘My friendly handyman said no problem with that either, agreed on a price for both and said he'd probably be over on Tuesday but he'd phone and confirm that once he'd consulted his oracle, namely his work book.’
2archaic A response or message given by an oracle, especially an ambiguous one.
Late Middle English: via Old French from Latin oraculum, from orare ‘speak’.
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