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[doo r, douuh r, dou-er]
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  1. sullen; gloomy: The captain's dour look depressed us all.
  2. severe; stern: His dour criticism made us regret having undertaken the job.
  3. Scot. (of land) barren; rocky, infertile, or otherwise difficult or impossible to cultivate.

Origin of dour

1325–75; Middle English < Latin dūrus dure1
Related formsdour·ly, adverbdour·ness, noun


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1. morose, sour, moody. See glum.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for dourness

Historical Examples

  • Rob turned on her with all the dourness of the Anguses in him.

    When a Man's Single

    J. M. Barrie

  • His face had an ugly, sullen look, something of his father's dourness.

    The Pioneers</p>

    Katharine Susannah Prichard

  • Our Scottish kirk has a great reputation for dourness—but it has probably kindled more humour than it ever quenched.

    Law and Laughter

    George Alexander Morton

  • Business is lively here, the chronic "dourness" of a market being discounted by the scarcity of horseflesh.

  • "You're as obstinate as the devil," smiled Peter, but in his heart he admired the dourness of his friend.

    The Yukon Trail</p>

    William MacLeod Raine

British Dictionary definitions for dourness


  1. sullen
  2. hard or obstinate
Derived Formsdourly, adverbdourness, noun

Word Origin

C14: probably from Latin dūrus hard
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for dourness



mid-14c., "severe," from Scottish and northern England dialect, probably from Latin durus "hard" (see endure); sense of "gloomy, sullen" is late 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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