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noun (used with a singular or plural verb) Roman Catholic Church.
  1. the office of matins and lauds for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of Holy Week, sung respectively on the afternoon of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of that week, at which the Crucifixion is commemorated by the gradual extinguishment of candles.
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Origin of Tenebrae

1645–55; < Latin: literally, darkness
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tenebrae

Historical Examples

  • It seemed to them that they were ready to enter a church on the day of Tenebrae.

    Notre-Dame de Paris

    Victor Hugo

  • Si ergo lumen, quod in te est, tenebrae sunt, ipsae tenebrae quantae erunt?

  • It arose thus: Lafontaine went one day with Racine to tenebrae, and was given a Bible.

British Dictionary definitions for tenebrae


  1. (functioning as singular or plural) RC Church (formerly) the matins and lauds for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of Holy Week, usually sung in the evenings or at night
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Word Origin

C17: from Latin: darkness
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