\ ˈnwär How to pronounce noir (audio) \

Definition of noir

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : crime fiction featuring hard-boiled cynical characters and bleak sleazy settings an example of classic noir
2 : film noir a comedy dressed in the trappings of an edgy noir



Definition of noir (Entry 2 of 2)

: having a bleak and darkly cynical quality of the kind associated with hard-boiled crime fiction and film noir a noir thriller In this boldly styled first novel, Komarnicki follows a 30-year-old homeless man on a noir odyssey of death and survival through the streets of New Orleans and Hong Kong.— Sybil S. Steinberg The plot of this violent fairy tale is as noir and nasty as the characters.— Marilyn Stasio

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from noir


noirish \ ˈnwär-​ish How to pronounce noir (audio) \ adjective

Examples of noir in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Read’s simmering crime story, set in the mountainous West and evocative of classic noir, follows a lonely adolescent through the dissolution of his family into life as a fugitive. New York Times, "New & Noteworthy, From Western Noir to Humanitarian Aid," 20 Jan. 2021 But as subarctic noir, this one is quite masterful. David James, Anchorage Daily News, "‘How Quickly She Disappears’ is a masterful work in the genre of subarctic noir," 16 Jan. 2021 Such is the premise of this noir, starring William H. Macy as the title character. Brian Tallerico, Vulture, "The 100 Best Movies on Hulu Right Now," 9 Jan. 2021 Its setting, Night City, would encompass 65 square miles of psychedelic Tokyo noir. Cecilia D'anastasio, Wired, "How Cyberpunk 2077 Sold a Promise—and Rigged the System," 15 Dec. 2020 The weird, decadent Christmas-in-LaLa-Land vibe ramps up as the movie proceeds and so does the body count, as this meta-Hollywood-noir spins more and more out of control. al, "Looking for offbeat Christmas movies? Don’t stop with ‘Die Hard’," 3 Dec. 2020 This is cinematic noir at its Mickey Spillaniest, with corrupt institutions, amoral politicians, femme fatales and sleazy underworld characters. Andrew A. Smith Tribune News Service, Star Tribune, "Two graphic novel anthologies that deserve your attention," 23 Nov. 2020 Toggling between high-stakes action, and quiet—even tender—family scenes, this is Southern noir with heart. Sydney Williams, NBC News, "Best books 2020: What to read, shared by Amazon Books editors," 19 Nov. 2020 The genre of Nordic noir has exploded in literature and onscreen over the past decade, and is usually characterized by a horrific crime, a gloomy setting and protagonists tormented by personal demons. Lisa Abend, New York Times, "Seeking the Humanity in the Story of Kim Wall’s Murder," 25 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Director Ridley Scott also directed the iconic science-fiction horror film Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982), a neo-noir set in a fictional, dystopian-era Los Angeles. Shayna Murphy, USA TODAY, "Here are 5 Mars-themed movies worth watching tonight," 19 Feb. 2021 Two brothers began one of the most important film careers of the modern era with this grisly 1984 noir starring Dan Hedaya and Frances McDormand. Brian Tallerico, Vulture, "The 100 Best Movies on HBO Max," 1 Feb. 2021 The whole narrative is presented through Emma's perspective, including through the use of a regrettably self-serious voiceover that Cooke delivers admirably despite its emo-noir excess. Mary Sollosi,, "Little Fish is a tense pandemic love story — with a great ending: Review," 7 Feb. 2021 See where Joel and Ethan Coen got their start in a clever riff on noir tropes — double crosses! Brian Tallerico, Vulture, "The 100 Best Movies on HBO Max," 1 Feb. 2021 Elisabeth, around whom the plot revolves, has ghosts in her past (this is noir, after all). David James, Anchorage Daily News, "‘How Quickly She Disappears’ is a masterful work in the genre of subarctic noir," 16 Jan. 2021 By denying Nick that crucial role and pushing him aside, Smith asks that we become invested in a set of noir caricatures and their lurid spat simply for its own sake. Washington Post, "For ‘Gatsby’ fans, 2021 will be the start of remakes. First up: ‘Nick’," 29 Dec. 2020 In the pilot, Cassie swoons over the guy in 3C: Alex Sokolov (Michiel Huisman), who might be described, in noir parlance, as tall, dark, and handsome. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "A Hot Mess Caught in a Caper in “The Flight Attendant”," 28 Dec. 2020 Unquestionably, Embla is what’s most compelling in this slow-moving Nordic noir novel. Don Oldenburg, USA TODAY, "Review: A cold case thaws in Helene Tursten's tough Nordic noir 'Snowdrift'," 10 Dec. 2020

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

See More

First Known Use of noir


1977, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1958, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for noir


short for film noir

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about noir

Statistics for noir

Last Updated

2 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Noir.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

More from Merriam-Webster on noir

Nglish: Translation of noir for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of noir for Arabic Speakers

Comments on noir

What made you want to look up noir? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!