1870 in spiritualism, "subtle emanation around living beings;" earlier "characteristic impression" made by a personality (1859), earlier still "an aroma or subtle emanation" (1732). All from Latin aura "breeze, wind, the upper air," from Greek aura "breath, cool breeze, air in motion," from PIE *aur-, from root *wer- (1) "to raise, lift, hold suspended." The word was used in the classical literal sense in Middle English, "gentle breeze" (late 14c.). The modern uses all are figurative. In Latin and Greek, the metaphoric uses were in reference to changeful events, popular favor.
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