Definition of oracular in US English:



  • 1Relating to an oracle.

    ‘the oracular shrine’
    • ‘During a divination, they construct usable knowledge from oracular messages.’
    • ‘Thus the same articulation pertains in the Panhellenic Games as in the order of the oracular consultation.’
    • ‘Overall, the pursuit of ‘proving’ the validity of divination and oracular knowledge is about as valid as attempting to prove love, the color blue to the color-blind or ecstatic trance to the uninitiated.’
    • ‘Laius set off to ask the oracular Pythoness at Delphi how to deal with this monster.’
    • ‘Later, the oracular prophecies completed their awful and ironic cycle of fulfillment when Oedipus undertook a mission to save Thebes, still acknowledged as his native city, from the predations of a dire female monster, the Sphinx.’
    • ‘A further oracular pronouncement has effectively restored Oedipus's free will.’
    • ‘The philosophers in the first century wrote of gases producing euphoria and of a spring emanating from fissures, or chasms, in the bedrock inside the oracular chamber.’
    prophetic, prophetical, sibylline, predictive, prescient, prognostic, divinatory, augural
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    1. 1.1 (of an utterance, advice, etc.) hard to interpret; enigmatic.
      ‘an ambiguous, oracular remark’
      • ‘The diviner employs the arts dramatically, heightening all the senses, to create and highlight this radically different setting for the oracular utterance.’
      • ‘This turns out to be brief and oracular, and tells us nothing about Delbrel.’
      • ‘Instead of unambiguous statements, the Union contents itself with oracular analyses.’
      • ‘His prose is both sinuous and oracular, with a torrent of subordinate clauses cluttering up nearly every sentence; it's hard to read him without giving thanks for the arrival of Hemingway on the American literary scene.’
      • ‘Speaking as a vague, confused and oracular writer who regularly indulges in verbal obscurity caused by my obvious mental confusion, I would humbly suggest that he is talking complete and utter rubbish.’
      enigmatic, cryptic, abstruse, unclear, obscure, confusing, mystifying, puzzling, perplexing, baffling, mysterious, arcane
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    2. 1.2 Holding or claiming the authority of an oracle.
      ‘he holds forth in oracular fashion’
      • ‘The public seems to equate being uncertain with ignorance; when people ask who's going to win, they want an answer that is confident, certain, oracular.’
      • ‘Another aspect of the wise-woman's status is that she is regarded as an oracular authority for her community regarding the meaning and significance of experiences they fail to understand - accidents, misfortunes, mysterious illness.’
      • ‘When a student writes down my words verbatim, the words take on a kind of oracular quality in the student's mind.’
      • ‘This book is written in the first person by Schwartz, but Russek features throughout in an oracular role, and as the contributor of speculations that go beyond what he alone would have entertained.’
      • ‘The poem's voice emanated from the world's timeless interior rather than the cities and institutions of its surface, hinting at a renewed oracular vision and attention to the natural order.’
      • ‘The Great Columnists assume oracular status; they become machines that issue well-pondered remarks at regular intervals.’
      • ‘Madison stated flatly that the Convention's debates should ‘never be regarded as the oracular guide’ for understanding the Constitution.’
      • ‘What she has to say about the Victorians, or Bloomsbury, Yates, the Pre-Raphaelites, or more modern writers has at times an oracular quality.’
      • ‘The news networks treat them like oracular geniuses.’
      • ‘Their work had an oracular or prophetic immediacy for a civilian population generally starved of real news about the war.’
      • ‘In oracular mode Peter Jenkins predicts that, inside of ten years, recreational tree climbing will eclipse both rock climbing and caving in mass participation.’
      • ‘The news anchors themselves, in the heyday of network television, acquired a kind of oracular glow, a comforting sense that, whatever else was going on, some kind of reliable narrative, some kind of verifiable truth could be found within.’
      • ‘The bold provisionality and elegant openness of Merz's installations, as well as his own freewheeling personal presence and oracular writings, helped make him the most widely recognized of all the Arte Povera artists.’
      • ‘‘Narrative of this Fall,’ a piece dedicated to Duncan, makes a plea that is both intimate and oracular for other poets to meet him in his imaginative epic space.’
      • ‘Beyond all this there is the paradoxical character of her work itself - which is visually clear yet always mysterious - and also her reflections on photography and life, which were aphoristic, evocative and often rather oracular.’
      • ‘Crucially, however, even within the confines of the biological sciences, the science of genetics does not, and cannot, speak with a single, oracular voice.’
      • ‘While the poetry is cryptic, allusive and ambiguous, the prose is lucid, oracular, loftily self-assured.’
      • ‘Finally the internet is living up to its truly oracular potential.’


Mid 17th century: from Latin oraculum (see oracle) + -ar.