[a-duhm-breyt, ad-uh m-breyt]

verb (used with object), ad·um·brat·ed, ad·um·brat·ing.

to produce a faint image or resemblance of; to outline or sketch.
to foreshadow; prefigure.
to darken or conceal partially; overshadow.

Origin of adumbrate

1575–85; < Latin adumbrātus shaded (past participle of adumbrāre), equivalent to ad- ad- + umbr(a) shade, shadow + -ātus -ate1
Related formsad·um·bra·tion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for adumbrate

Historical Examples of adumbrate

  • There had, in truth, scarcely yet been time enough to adumbrate the possibilities opened up by this gentleman's return.

    A Laodicean

    Thomas Hardy

  • But it is now time to state, or rather faintly to adumbrate, the grand assumption of this singular work.

  • Feeble is human speech to deal with such high matters, serving, at the best, but dimly to adumbrate ineffable truths.

  • One could adumbrate triumph or disaster by the effort, sustained or otherwise, made by them.

    The Soul of Susan Yellam

    Horace Annesley Vachell

  • A type is a symbol appointed by God to adumbrate something higher in the future, which is called the antitype.

British Dictionary definitions for adumbrate


verb (tr)

to outline; give a faint indication of
to foreshadow
to overshadow; obscure
Derived Formsadumbration, nounadumbrative (ædˈʌmbrətɪv), adjectiveadumbratively, adverb

Word Origin for adumbrate

C16: from Latin adumbrātus represented only in outline, from adumbrāre to cast a shadow on, from umbra shadow
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 adumbrate

"to outline, to sketch," 1580s, from Latin adumbratus "sketched, shadowed in outline," past participle of adumbrare "to represent (a thing) in outline" (see adumbration). Meaning "to overshadow" is 1660s. Related: Adumbrated; adumbrating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper