Definition of saturnine in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsatənʌɪn/


1(Of a person or their manner) gloomy: a saturnine temperament
More example sentences
  • Perrault's ‘Bluebeard’ is the story of a rich, middle-aged gentleman, named for his swarthy chin and saturnine manner, who marries a young woman.
  • A brusque, saturnine figure, Wilbur has attempted suicide by every possible means but has yet to succeed.
  • Then she simply stays in bed all the following day, drinking tea, eating chocolates and reading about strong-jawed, saturnine heroes and almond-eyed heiresses disguised as pageboys.
gloomy, sombre, melancholy, melancholic, moody, miserable, lugubrious, dour, glum, unsmiling, humourless, grumpy, bad-tempered;
taciturn, uncommunicative, unresponsive
1.1(Of a person or their features) dark in colouring and moody or mysterious: his saturnine face and dark, watchful eyes
More example sentences
  • The smile has returned to Craig's saturnine features.
  • Dark and saturnine, he is a strong screen presence with natural brooding ability, and he holds things steady when a last-ditch attempt to end on a thrill causes the film to falter.
  • He was a bright boy from Yorkshire with a dark and saturnine look and laconic manner, and he was already writing strong verse.
2 archaic Relating to lead.





Late Middle English (as a term in astrology): from Old French saturnin, from medieval Latin Saturninus 'of Saturn' (identified with lead by the alchemists and associated with slowness and gloom by astrologers).

  • In medieval astrology the planet Saturn represented lead, and those born under its influence could expect to be gloomy, sluggish, and cold. Belief in planetary influence may no longer be scientific, but the description saturnine lives on. The planet takes its name from the Roman god Saturn, the equivalent of Greek Cronus or Kronos, who had been the supreme god until Zeus dethroned him. Saturday (Old English) was ‘the day of Saturn’ in Roman times. Satire (early 16th century) has no connection with Saturn, nor with satyrs. It comes from Latin satura ‘poetic medley’ later used in the modern sense, while where the Greeks got the term for the goatish satyrs (Late Middle English) is not known. See also jovial

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Line breaks: sat¦ur|nine

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