• Dark; shadowy or obscure.

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Example Sentences

“The basement was a creepy, tenebrous cavern until I turned the lights on, and my fears went away.”

“We’ll uncover the tenebrous secrets of the Romantic-era poets this semester.”

“The woods have a tenebrous quality that makes me think of certain fairy tales.”

Word Origin

French, mid-15th century

Why this word?

Why say “tenebrous” when you could say “dark”? The two words are synonyms, after all — the adjective “tenebrous” comes from the Latin for “darkness,” “tenebrae.” But there’s a poetic nuance to certain words, and if you want to imply a mysterious, shadowy, or even otherworldly quality to the darkness, “tenebrous” is the right selection. If we’re talking about somebody turning off the lights when they leave a room, “dark” is fine to use.

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