lu·​gu·​bri·​ous | \ lu̇-ˈgü-brē-əs How to pronounce lugubrious (audio) also -ˈgyü- \

Definition of lugubrious

1 : mournful especially : exaggeratedly or affectedly (see affected entry 2 sense 1a) mournful dark, dramatic and lugubrious brooding — V. S. Pritchett the tour de force of lugubrious cliche is ten times longer than this review — Martin Amis
2 : dismal a lugubrious landscape lugubrious cello music

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Other Words from lugubrious

lugubriously adverb
lugubriousness noun

Lugubrious Has Latin Roots

It is a consolation to the wretched to have companions in misery, wrote Publilius Syrus in the first century BC. Perhaps this explains why "lugubrious" is so woeful-it's all alone. Sure, we can dress up "lugubrious" with suffixes to form "lugubriously" or "lugubriousness," but the word remains essentially an only child-the sole surviving English offspring of its Latin ancestors. This wasn't always the case, though. "Lugubrious" once had a linguistic living relative in "luctual," an adjective meaning "sad" or "sorrowful." Like "lugubrious," "luctual" traced ultimately to the Latin verb lugēre, meaning "to mourn." "Luctual," however, faded into obsolescence long ago, leaving "lugubrious" to carry on the family's mournful mission all alone.

Examples of lugubrious in a Sentence

a comic actor known for his lugubrious manner the diner's dim lighting makes eating there a particularly lugubrious experience
Recent Examples on the Web Yves Saint Laurent was born 40 years ago in the shimmering but lugubrious North African city of Oran, Algeria’s second largest metropolis. Kelly Allen, House Beautiful, 4 June 2021 Some made the long journey to Moscow, others huddled by loudspeakers in villages throughout the country to listen to fulsome, lugubrious panegyrics broadcast over the radio., 13 May 2021 That bravura gesture marked a rare bit of genuine excitement on a night when there were few surprises and the tone was low-key to the point of lugubrious. Washington Post, 26 Apr. 2021 Tsinghua University released an official study demonstrating that China could reach its 2060 goal by staying on a glide path that could charitably be described as moderate … and uncharitably termed lugubrious. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, 16 Mar. 2021 Every episode from there got longer and more lugubrious, weighed down by franchise canon and relentless plot incident. Darren Franich,, 5 Mar. 2021 There’s nothing mournful or lugubrious here, but exuberance, vivacity, a piercing clarity of vision that characterizes all of Morris’ work. Rachel Donadio, Travel + Leisure, 8 Dec. 2020 What’s more, the lugubrious pathologist Quirke and Chief Superintendent Hackett, both of whom once prowled the pages of Black’s novels, have also made it over here. John Banville, Star Tribune, 16 Oct. 2020 Jo Nesbo, creator of the lugubrious Norwegian detective Harry Hole, has sold over 45m books worldwide. The Economist, 21 May 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lugubrious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of lugubrious

1585, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for lugubrious

Latin lugubris, from lugēre to mourn; akin to Greek lygros mournful

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The first known use of lugubrious was in 1585

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Last Updated

15 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lugubrious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Aug. 2021.

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More Definitions for lugubrious



English Language Learners Definition of lugubrious

formal : full of sadness or sorrow : very sad especially in an exaggerated or insincere way

More from Merriam-Webster on lugubrious

Nglish: Translation of lugubrious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lugubrious for Arabic Speakers


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