hovering with impending doom

bamboo--tw

Senior Member
ROC/Mandarin
In my community, the small greening garden bushes light up like stars in the dark sky. In the distance, a dust storm looms, hovering with impending doom.


HI,
Is it correct to interpret the bolded part as "a dust storm appears vaguely, ushering in an ominously upcoming disaster?" Thanks.
 
  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    "looms" is not "appears vaguely" to me, bamboo-tw. The passage gives me the impression of a large and ominous shape in the distance, blotting out the light and approaching.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Yes, I was going to say exactly that too. I'd just note that "with impending doom" is somewhat of a set phrase.
    The problem may come from these nuances:

    WR: loom: come into view indistinctly, often threateningly; "Another air plane loomed into the sky"

    MW: to come into sight in enlarged or distorted and indistinct form often as a result of atmospheric conditions

    Gaer
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    The problem may come from these nuances:

    WR: loom: come into view indistinctly, often threateningly; "Another air plane loomed into the sky"

    MW: to come into sight in enlarged or distorted and indistinct form often as a result of atmospheric conditions

    Gaer
    Interesting. I must say that personally, and not having checked a definition, "loom" doesn't suggest "indistinct" to me - just something portentous hanging over. "The moon loomed large in the sky" for example - we know that something wicked this way comes.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Interesting. I must say that personally, and not having checked a definition, "loom" doesn't suggest "indistinct" to me - just something portentous hanging over. "The moon loomed large in the sky" for example - we know that something wicked this way comes.
    Tim, I think that "indistinct" is highly misleading.

    But look at this, from Cambridge:

    to appear as a large, often frightening or unclear shape or object: Dark storm clouds loomed on the horizon.

    I think that natives combine "large", "frightening" and "unclear". Something is "unclear" because we won't see exactly what it is, at least in many cases, until it gets closer.

    In many cases, it is also "unclear" whether or not something that is "looming" will "hit", such as a hurricane, a huge storm, etc.
     
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