Is there a phrase that describes that something is an indicator for an undesired outcome?

For example: The fact that you haven't heard from them yet is ..... (after a job interview).

  • 2
    It's a telltale sign. It's a broad hint. It speaks volumes. It says a lot. It really says it all. It's all you need to know. It's the proverbial canary in a cage that has ceased to be and is gone to meet its maker.
    – RegDwigнt
    Sep 14, 2019 at 11:27
  • @Reg all worthy answers. Sep 14, 2019 at 14:08
  • @RegDwigнt — I believe I may have asked you before, but I don’t believe you answered. How do you as a moderator justify answering questions in comments, despite the unequivocal injunction not to do so in the comment box?
    – David
    Sep 14, 2019 at 19:16
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    @David precisely right. The injunction is unequivocal. Consequently, the very fact that I post something as a comment should be enough to tip you off that it cannot possibly be meant to be an answer. I choose my words carefully, as well as where I post them. The result is cryptic at times, but that is also because of the rules. If this were our chat, my previous comment would've been just four very simple words. But this is the main site, and so it reads very differently. The actual meaning is still the same, however. You just need to step back and squint a little. Or ask again in chat.
    – RegDwigнt
    Sep 14, 2019 at 22:44
  • @RegDwigнt — Thank you for your ophthalmic advice — perhaps I should ask my optician to provide me with colour-reversal lenses. The poster asks for a phrase; in the comment box you provide seven phrases that fit; marcellothearcane comments that they all are worthy answers; but, because they were not meant to be answers, you were not answering the question. Disbelief in objective reality is all very well for philosophers, but hardly for moderators on this list. Or were you “using comments to ask for more information or suggest improvements”? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
    – David
    Sep 15, 2019 at 17:28

3 Answers 3


You could say such a situation is ominous.

giving the worrying impression that something bad is going to happen; threateningly inauspicious.


(Inauspicious means that probably won't be successful)

The fact that you haven't heard from them yet is ominous.

It comes from the same root as 'omen', which is often a bad thing. You'd more often get an ill omen than a good one.

  • Thank you @marcello. I like this one a lot! It reminds me of the (wonderful) book The Alchemist. I'm not using it on this occasion, because I think the audience wouldn't really resonate with it. But I'm adding it on my shortlist for phrases I would like to try soon :)!
    – RWB
    Sep 15, 2019 at 4:17

bad omen

An omen is something that you take as a sign of something to come. A bad omen is something that you take as a sign of something to come that's bad.

The fact that you haven't heard from them yet is a bad omen.

  • Thank you @Benjamin! As just said to Marcello I really like the omen reference! Your suggested version might work even better for my audience because it's a bit more simplistic than ominous. I'll try it soon :)
    – RWB
    Sep 15, 2019 at 4:20

The word "unpropitious" comes to my mind -


: (of a circumstance) not giving or indicating a good chance of success; unfavorable.

(Oxford (now Lexico))

Therefore -

The fact that you haven't heard from them yet is unpropitious.

The fact that you haven't heard from the interviewers (yet) is that you probably did not have a good chance of getting selected, so no success.

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