ten·​e·​brous | \ ˈte-nə-brəs How to pronounce tenebrous (audio) \

Definition of tenebrous

1 : shut off from the light : dark, murky tenebrous depths
2 : hard to understand : obscure a tenebrous affair
3 : causing gloom

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Did You Know?

Tenebrous means "obscure" or "murky," but there's nothing unclear about its history. Etymologists know that the word derives from the Latin noun tenebrae, which means "darkness." "Tenebrous" has been used in English since the 15th century, and in the 20th century it was joined by some interesting relations. "Tenebrionid" is the name of a nocturnal beetle that is usually dark-colored and is also called a "darkling beetle." "Tenebrism" refers to a style of painting - associated with the Italian painter Caravaggio - in which most of the figures are engulfed in shadow but some are dramatically illuminated by concentrated light.

Examples of tenebrous in a Sentence

a tenebrous night with no moon in the midst of those tenebrous days Thomas Paine penned the immortal words “These are the times that try men's souls”
Recent Examples on the Web As in the 1610 version, Susanna is seated on a balustrade, but this time there is a tenebrous sky, rather than a clear blue one. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, "A Fuller Picture of Artemisia Gentileschi," 28 Sep. 2020 Natalie Erika James' assured first feature demonstrates bracing command of atmospherics, from its tenebrous visuals and labyrinthine production design to its nerve-jangling use of music and a thick soundscape stew of bumps, creaks, thuds and groans. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Relic': Film Review | Sundance 2020," 27 Jan. 2020

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

First Known Use of tenebrous

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tenebrous

Middle English tenebrose, tenebrus, borrowed from Anglo-French tenebreus, borrowed from Latin tenebrōsus, from tenebrae "darkness" + -ōsus -ous — more at tenebrae

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

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Cite this Entry

“Tenebrous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenebrous. Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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