ten·​e·​brism ˈte-nə-ˌbri-zəm How to pronounce tenebrism (audio)
often capitalized
: a style of painting especially associated with the Italian painter Caravaggio and his followers in which most of the figures are engulfed in shadow but some are dramatically illuminated by a beam of light usually from an identifiable source
tenebrist noun or adjective often capitalized

Examples of tenebrism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Combining tenebrism with real-life models, heightened naturalism and tight, tumultuous spaces, Caravaggio brought pictorial storytelling to an unprecedented pitch of intensity. Washington Post, 4 Nov. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tenebrism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


probably borrowed from Italian tenebrismo, from tenebroso tenebrous + -ism -ism

First Known Use

1954, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of tenebrism was in 1954

Dictionary Entries Near tenebrism

Cite this Entry

“Tenebrism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenebrism. Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

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