[ sat-er-nahyn ]
See synonyms for saturnine on
  1. sluggish in temperament; gloomy; taciturn.

  2. suffering from lead poisoning, as a person.

  1. due to absorption of lead, as bodily disorders.

Origin of saturnine

1400–50; late Middle English <Medieval Latin sāturnīnus (see Saturn, -ine1)

Other words from saturnine

  • sat·ur·nine·ly, adverb
  • sat·ur·nine·ness, sat·ur·nin·i·ty [sat-er-nin-i-tee], /ˌsæt ərˈnɪn ɪ ti/, noun

Words Nearby saturnine Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use saturnine in a sentence

  • He was a slim saturnine-faced man with cigaret-ash stain on a coat lapel.

  • The dark, saturnine stranger had shrunk away into the background of his life, and no longer seemed of importance to him.

    The Everlasting Arms | Joseph Hocking
  • I saw him as he strode through the little village, looking neither to right nor left, saturnine of countenance.

    A Virginia Scout | Hugh Pendexter
  • And by the door stood Billy, watching them all like an evil spirit, with a leer of saturnine malice on his evil face.

    Eric, or Little by Little | Frederic W. Farrar
  • The driver, a lean saturnine man who seemed to be forever chewing gum, began to prepare coffee.

    Security | Poul William Anderson

British Dictionary definitions for saturnine


/ (ˈsætəˌnaɪn) /

  1. having a gloomy temperament; taciturn

  2. archaic

    • of or relating to lead

    • having or symptomatic of lead poisoning

Origin of saturnine

C15: from French saturnin, from Medieval Latin sāturnīnus (unattested), from Latin Sāturnus Saturn, with reference to the gloomy influence attributed to the planet Saturn

Derived forms of saturnine

  • saturninely, adverb
  • saturninity (ˌsætəˈnɪnɪtɪ), noun

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