Definition of sepia in English:


Syllabification: se·pi·a
Pronunciation: /ˈsēpēə


  • 1A reddish-brown color associated particularly with monochrome photographs of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
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    • Old sepia photographs of the new arrivals, dressed proudly in suits, ties and bowler hats soon gave way to faded images of a population transformed into farmers, builders and engineers.
    • The colour is a kind of brownish sepia and reminds one of old, well-loved photographs.
    • With skin tone colors of apricot, tan, sepia, mahogany, salmon, raw sienna, and burnt sienna, white was used primarily to alter shades and create a layered tint.
  • 1.1A brown pigment prepared from a black fluid secreted by cuttlefish, used in monochrome drawing and in watercolors.
    More example sentences
    • In the history of ink, which is rapidly coming to an end, the ancient world turns from the use of India ink to adopt sepia.
    • This little collection comprises ten porcelain and eight copper examples, all very carefully painted in polychrome enamels, sepia, and encre de Chine.
    • I bought several bottles of sepia ink in a Paris ink shop today, as I've used almost a bottle of brown ink on this tour.
  • 1.2A drawing done with sepia.
  • 1.3A blackish fluid secreted by a cuttlefish as a defensive screen.
    More example sentences
    • At the end of the 18th century it gained in popularity as a drawing medium because a reliable method of chemical extraction was discovered which produced a concentrated ink from the natural sepia.
    • Avoid getting the sepia on your floatation suits, nothing marks like cuttle ink.


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  • Of a reddish-brown color: old sepia photographs


late Middle English (denoting a cuttlefish): via Latin from Greek sēpia 'cuttlefish'. The current senses date from the early 19th century.

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