Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[sat-er-nahyn] /ˈsæt ərˌnaɪn/
sluggish in temperament; gloomy; taciturn.
suffering from lead poisoning, as a person.
due to absorption of lead, as bodily disorders.
Origin of saturnine
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Medieval Latin sāturnīnus (see Saturn, -ine1)
Related forms
saturninely, adverb
saturnineness, saturninity
[sat-er-nin-i-tee] /ˌsæt ərˈnɪn ɪ ti/ (Show IPA),
noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for saturnine
Historical Examples
  • The voice of the older man came with a sinister force and saturnine.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • His temper was of the saturnine complexion, and without the least taint of moroseness.

    Joseph Andrews Vol. 1 Henry Fielding
  • The saturnine Hahn stood at my door with a weapon upon me while I ate.

  • All the while the little Cuban talked swiftly and with a saturnine enthusiasm.

    Romance Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer
  • The witticisms convulsed Paul's neighbours and left him saturnine.

    Despair's Last Journey David Christie Murray
  • He was a tall, black-eyed man, with the dark, saturnine face of an Indian.

  • Father Brown seemed rather to like the saturnine candour of the soldier.

  • He was of a saturnine nature, in whom anger burned slow and deep.

    The Huntress Hulbert Footner
  • He had a marked squint and this gave him a saturnine expression.

    The Trembling of a Leaf William Somerset Maugham
  • The cook was a gaunt, long-legged person with a saturnine countenance.

    The Dude Wrangler

    Caroline Lockhart
British Dictionary definitions for saturnine


having a gloomy temperament; taciturn
  1. of or relating to lead
  2. having or symptomatic of lead poisoning
Derived Forms
saturninely, adverb
saturninity (ˌsætəˈnɪnɪtɪ) noun
Word Origin
C15: from French saturnin, from Medieval Latin sāturnīnus (unattested), from Latin Sāturnus Saturn, with reference to the gloomy influence attributed to the planet Saturn
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for saturnine

"gloomy, morose, sluggish, grave," mid-15c., literally "born under the influence of the planet Saturn," from Middle English Saturne (see Saturn) + -ine (1). Medieval physiology believed these characteristics to be caused by the astrological influence of the planet Saturn, which was the most remote from the Sun (in the limited knowledge of the times) and thus coldest and slowest in its revolution.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
saturnine in Medicine

saturnine sat·ur·nine (sāt'ər-nīn')

  1. Melancholy or sullen.

  2. Produced by absorption of lead.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for saturnine

Word Value for saturnine

Scrabble Words With Friends