sat·​ur·​nine | \ ˈsa-tər-ˌnīn How to pronounce saturnine (audio) \

Definition of saturnine

1 : born under or influenced astrologically by the planet Saturn
2a : cold and steady in mood : slow to act or change
b : of a gloomy or surly disposition
c : having a sardonic aspect a saturnine smile

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Choose the Right Synonym for saturnine

sullen, glum, morose, surly, sulky, crabbed, saturnine, gloomy mean showing a forbidding or disagreeable mood. sullen implies a silent ill humor and a refusal to be sociable. remained sullen amid the festivities glum suggests a silent dispiritedness. a glum candidate left to ponder a stunning defeat morose adds to glum an element of bitterness or misanthropy. morose job seekers who are inured to rejection surly implies gruffness and sullenness of speech or manner. a typical surly teenager sulky suggests childish resentment expressed in peevish sullenness. grew sulky after every spat crabbed applies to a forbidding morose harshness of manner. the school's notoriously crabbed headmaster saturnine describes a heavy forbidding aspect or suggests a bitter disposition. a saturnine cynic always finding fault gloomy implies a depression in mood making for seeming sullenness or glumness. a gloomy mood ushered in by bad news

Did You Know?

Eeyore is saturnine. The gloomy, cynical character of A. A. Milne's gray donkey typifies the personality type the ancient Romans ascribed to individuals born when the planet Saturn was rising in the heavens. Both the name of the planet and the adjective derive from the name of the Roman god of agriculture, who was often depicted as a bent old man with a stern, sluggish, and sullen nature. The Latin name for Saturn was Saturnus, which is assumed to have yielded the word Saturninus (meaning "of Saturn") in Medieval Latin; that form was adapted to create English saturnine in the 15th century.

Examples of saturnine in a Sentence

He is saturnine in temperament. the men awaiting interrogation by the police shared a saturnine silence

First Known Use of saturnine

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

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The first known use of saturnine was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Saturnine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2020.

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How to pronounce saturnine (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of saturnine

literary : very serious and unhappy


sat·​ur·​nine | \ ˈsat-ər-ˌnīn How to pronounce saturnine (audio) \

Medical Definition of saturnine

1 : of or relating to lead
2 : of, relating to, or produced by the absorption of lead into the system saturnine poisoning saturnine gout

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