se·​pia | \ ˈsē-pē-ə How to pronounce sepia (audio) \

Definition of sepia

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a brown melanin-containing pigment from the ink of cuttlefishes
b : the inky secretion of a cuttlefish
2 : a print or photograph of a brown color resembling sepia
3 : a brownish-gray to dark olive-brown color



Definition of sepia (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : made of or done in sepia
2 : of the color sepia

Examples of sepia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The dangling Edison bulbs, with their old-fashioned look, glowing filaments, and sepia tones, are popular at American restaurants and with modern home designers. Susan Decker, Fortune, "University Wants a Cut of ‘Edison’ Bulb Sales from Walmart, Target, and Amazon," 30 July 2019 But the characters clung to the past: The show’s neutral, faded colors were chosen, according to costume designer Rita Riggs, to evoke the sepia tones of an old family photograph album. Joanna Scutts, Curbed, "The shows we’ve lived by," 14 Aug. 2019 The dangling Edison bulbs, with their old-fashioned look, glowing filaments and sepia tones, are popular at restaurants and with modern home designers. Los Angeles Times, "UC Santa Barbara sues Walmart, Amazon and others over LED lightbulbs," 30 July 2019 As his reminiscences of Senate business in the sepia-toned (but decidedly white) past tripped up his early campaign efforts, Biden has tried, gingerly to grudgingly, to walk his comments back. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, The New Republic, "The Destructive Politics of White Amnesia," 6 Aug. 2019 Over the course of two weeks the artist set the stage by making the first marks with a sepia tone crayon for each distinct image. John Zotos, Dallas News, "Dallas exhibition of art star Francesco Clemente was years in the making — and worth the wait," 1 Aug. 2019 The overall tone of the fourth episode, written by Murphy and producer Janet Mock, is muted and, cinematically speaking, colorless; the majority of scenes seem to be injected with a sepia-tint. Jason Parham, WIRED, "Depth of Field: On Pose, the Past Is the Present," 11 July 2019 Though salvaged, the images remain tinted by this history, their anonymity like a kind of sepia. The New York Review of Books, "Gaiutra Bahadur," 21 Dec. 2018 For their outfits, head-to-toe black ensembles with hints of bold colors were replaced with sepia suits with muted hues. Devon Abelman, Allure, "The Rose Opens Up About the Pressure to Have Good Skin in K-Pop and Beyond," 5 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Cyclists have always adapted to a variety of terrain, as those old, sepia-tone photographs of the Tour de France from the early 1900s will attest. Brion O’connor,, "For the road less traveled, try a gravel bike," 10 July 2019 All the group has to go on is an old, wallet-sized sepia photograph. San Diego Union-Tribune, "A group wants to rebuild a World War II memorial. This photo is all that’s left to go on.," 20 June 2019 In fact, the first half of the movie is a mostly plotless, sepia-tone slog, whose copious scenes of tree-chopping, pillow talk and creepy cult rituals prompted a handful of fest-goers to walk out. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, "Sundance: Nicolas Cage's revenge thriller 'Mandy' may be his weirdest movie yet," 21 Jan. 2018 But Lepp, who lives in Seattle and has a background in film and the gaming industry, has so much more invested in these sepia panels, and so many stories to tell. Steve Duin,, "Steve Duin: The heartfelt 'Soul in the Machine'," 1 Feb. 2018 The ancient couples were quaint in the stiff, sepia photos posing in their Sunday best or in jerky 16-millimeter home movies. Anna Fels, New York Times, "The Museum of You Does Not Have a Gift Shop," 25 Oct. 2017 The top filters used by depressed individuals were: Inkwell Crema Willow Inkwell and Willow turn the photos into black-and-white, and Crema turns the photos into a darker, more sepia tone. Daniel Wheaton,, "Know a friend who only uses the "inkwell" filter on Instagram? They might be depressed.," 15 Aug. 2017 Of looking through the shiny new towers and having sepia dreams of what the buildings must have looked like when my grandfather left it behind. Karissa Chen, Longreads, "My Grandfather’s Fateful Goodbye, Reimagined," 8 July 2017 Sepia principals Emmanel Nony, chef Andrew Zimmerman and sommelier Arthur Hon will oversee the new project, which will feature riffs on global street food. Phil Vettel,, "41 new and coming-soon Chicago restaurants to hit this summer," 1 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sepia.' 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 sepia


1821, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1827, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sepia


Latin, cuttlefish, ink, from Greek sēpia

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Statistics for sepia

Last Updated

28 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for sepia

The first known use of sepia was in 1821

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English Language Learners Definition of sepia

: a reddish-brown color


se·​pia | \ ˈsē-pē-ə How to pronounce sepia (audio) \

Medical Definition of sepia

1 capitalized : a genus (the type of the family Sepiidae) of oval-bodied cephalopods that comprise the cuttlefishes and have a saclike organ containing a dark fluid and an internal shell mostly of calcium carbonate which has been used as an antacid and in tooth and polishing powders
2 : the inky secretion of a cuttlefish or a brown pigment from it

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More from Merriam-Webster on sepia

Spanish Central: Translation of sepia

Nglish: Translation of sepia for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about sepia

Comments on sepia

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


readily or continually undergoing change

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