adjective sat·ur·nine \ˈsa-tər-ˌnīn\

Definition of saturnine

  1. 1 :  born under or influenced astrologically by the planet Saturn

  2. 2a :  cold and steady in mood :  slow to act or changeb :  of a gloomy or surly dispositionc :  having a sardonic aspect a saturnine smile

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Examples of saturnine in a sentence

  1. He is saturnine in temperament.

  2. the men awaiting interrogation by the police shared a saturnine silence

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.

15th Century

First Known Use of saturnine

15th century

Synonym Discussion of 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.

SATURNINE Defined for English Language Learners


adjective sat·ur·nine \ˈsa-tər-ˌnīn\

Definition of saturnine for English Language Learners

  • : very serious and unhappy

Medical Dictionary


adjective sat·ur·nine \ˈsat-ər-ˌnīn\

Medical Definition of saturnine

  1. 1:  of or relating to lead

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

Biographical Note for saturnine


\ˈsat-ərn\play , Roman mythological character. A god of agriculture in Roman mythology, Saturn taught humans how to till the fields and enjoy the fruits of civilization. His festival was called the Saturnalia and took place in late December. Lasting a week, it was the merriest and most popular of the Roman festivals. The planet Saturn, named after the god, was believed by the ancients to be made of lead.

Seen and Heard

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to criticize severely

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