Long Definition:

sat·ur·nine [sat-er-nahyn] Pronunciation Key Show IPA Pronunciation


1. sluggish in temperament; gloomy; taciturn.
2. suffering from lead poisoning, as a person.
3. due to absorption of lead, as bodily disorders.

[Origin: 1400–50; late ME < ML s?turn?nus (see Saturn, -ine1) ]

sat·ur·nine·ly, adverb
sat·ur·nine·ness, sat·ur·nin·i·ty [sat-er-nin-i-tee] Pronunciation Key Show IPA Pronunciation, noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

NOTE: Saturnine has a fairly broad range of definitions among different dictionaries. The GRE and SAT will not use definitions 2 or 3 above, since they are specific to the medical field. Saturnine also has the idea of sullen, bitter, or dark in outlook. It is applied to personalities, not objects or environments.

Short Definition: Gloomy


  • His saturnine disposition made him unwelcome at parties.
  • The child’s saturnine expression and refusal to be cheered up indicated some trouble with her home life.

Saturn > gloomy: Picture the ringed planet Saturn floating in space. The planet has a face with a big frown on it. It looks depressed, bitter, and gloomy. You might imagine a famous comedian–such as Groucho Marx– floating in space in an astronaut suit, doing his best to make Saturn smile, but no luck.



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