This is the context where I want to use the word:

He closed his eyes. The living did not come to mind, neither friend, nor family—only the dance of death, plain to see. The dancing figures of death were beckoning him. How could he not end his life? The sense of death already enveloped him. His body grew cold and he felt stiff like lead.

What words can be used here? Can 'aura' be used here? Doesn't your body have an 'aura' intrinsically?

The sense of death already enveloped him.

The aura of death already enveloped him.

The OED definitions I found are:

Sense noun

1 a faculty by which the body perceives an external stimulus; one of the faculties of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch::the bear has a keen sense of smell that enables it to hunt at dusk

2 a feeling that something is the case:: she had the sense of being a political outsider

  • an awareness or feeling that one is in a specified state:: you can improve your general health and sense of well-being

  • (sense of) a keen intuitive awareness of or sensitivity to the presence or importance of something:: she had a fine sense of comic timing

Aura noun (plural auras) [usually in singular]

1 the distinctive atmosphere or quality that seems to surround and be generated by a person, thing, or place: the ceremony retains an aura of mystery

2 a supposed emanation surrounding the body of a living creature, viewed by mystics, spiritualists, and some practitioners of complementary medicine as the essence of the individual, and allegedly discernible by people with special sensibilities. any invisible emanation, especially a scent or odor: there was a faint aura of disinfectant

  • Sure, to everything you suggest. It all depends on the nuance you want. 'stigma' might work as well as 'air' (the others mentioned there don't work). Your title to this question is -way- too specific and may result in this question being closed as NARQ, TL, or NC.
    – Mitch
    Mar 31, 2013 at 19:50
  • 1
    Please do not migrate this to Writers. It is not on topic there.
    – user10893
    May 27, 2013 at 5:28
  • @soulz I edited your question and took part of it put (where you asked about articles) because its easier for people to answer if there's just one question per post. Feel free to ask it as a separate question.
    – user10893
    May 27, 2013 at 5:35
  • "He felt stiff like lead" strikes me as a poor simile. Lead is a soft, pliable metal — in other words, it is the opposite of soft. "He felt as heavy as lead" works much better, because it respects the observable characteristics of lead.
    – Erik Kowal
    Jan 18, 2015 at 5:47
  • Pull may get your gears moving in the right direction, @Soulz -- The pull of death already enveloped him. Good luck. Jul 15, 2015 at 8:25

4 Answers 4


The dancing figures of death were beckoning him.

In purple prose:

"He could feel the beat of that apoptotic dance spreading through his fingers and toes, up his arms, his legs, beckoning even the innermost core of his being into paroxysms of sweet, sweet nothingness."

The root word here is apoptosis. It refers to the programmed, or predestined if you will, death of cells.

  • The link offered here is completely misleading in the context of the prose presented in the quoted 'purple prose'. And the attempted correlation between OP's 'dancing figures and the ornate description of the dance in the purple prose is erroneous. Apoptosis means death and cannot refer to a sensation or perception. There is a single term for sensation (perception) of impending death ANGOR ANIMI.
    – user49727
    Aug 20, 2013 at 6:18

"Aura" suggests the way he looks to others, which doesn't fit the context you've given. Something like "foreboding" seems like the right word to me.


I cannot think of a single word, but perhaps sensation of moribundity would serve to reduce the number of words used to only three, plus moribundity is extremely pleasurable to pronounce.

  • There is the more direct, but less eloquent, "He felt moribund."
    Sep 6, 2016 at 14:59

How about:

the spectre of death hovered

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