Is there a word for a feeling of impending doom or dread?

For example, what word could be used in the following sentence?

I walked into the bar and felt ______. I knew something terrible was about to happen, but I couldn't place my finger on what, or why.


8 Answers 8


My preferred word for this is foreboding. Here is the entry for foreboding from Merriam-Webster:

: a feeling that something bad is going to happen.

Some examples from the entry:

She was filled with a sense of foreboding.

It seems that her forebodings were justified.


You could say that you have an ominous feeling:

giving the impression that something bad or unpleasant is going to happen;

threatening; inauspicious.

synonyms: threatening, menacing, baleful, forbidding, sinister, inauspicious, unpropitious, unfavorable, unpromising; portentous, foreboding, fateful, premonitory; black, dark, gloomy; formalminatory; literarydireful; rareminacious

"ominous clouds"


You could try premonition (which isn't solely restricted to negative future scenarios, but has that connotation by default):

Definition (via Oxford Dictionaries Online):

A strong feeling that something is about to happen, especially something unpleasant


He had a premonition of imminent disaster.


You might consider, presentiment

A feeling or impression that something is about to happen, especially something evil; foreboding.

Origin of presentiment: 1705--15; < French, now obsolete spelling of pressentiment. See pre-, sentiment

presentimental, adjective

Random House


uneasy, suspicious, anxiety, apprehensiveness, trepidation...

The man felt uneasy.
She was suspicious of what was to come.
The child was anxious about the future.
An apprehensive look fell over his face.
The room was filled with trepidation.


Premonition - noun, UK

Pronunciation - /ˌprem.əˈnɪʃ.ən/ /ˌpriː.məˈnɪʃ.ən/ US /ˌprem.əˈnɪʃ.ən/ /ˌpriː.məˈnɪʃ.ən/

Definition - a feeling that something, especially something unpleasant, is going to happen:

  • [+ that] He had a premonition that his plane would crash, so he took the train.

  • She had a sudden premonition of what the future might bring.


MALAISE, defined in the Cambridge English Dictionary as "a general feeling of being sick or having no energy, or an uncomfortable feeling that something is wrong, especially with society, and that you cannot change the situation," is the word I use to describe a sense of impending doom.

In response to the question and the example: "I walked into the bar and felt ______. I knew something terrible was about to happen, but I couldn't place my finger on what, or why."

MALAISE is further defined in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary as "a general feeling of being ill, unhappy or not satisfied, or that something is wrong in society, WITHOUT BEING ABLE TO EXPLAIN OR IDENTIFY WHAT IS WRONG" which pertains to being unable to "PLACE MY FINGER ON WHAT, OR WHY."



fear or worry about what is going to happen:

We view future developments with some trepidation.


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