What does tenebrous mean?

Word count: 206 words

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

If you increase your vocabulary you’ll not only help your reading, you’ll also make your writing more precise. Here is my word of the week, tenebrous.

I’ve already told you about reading a profile of Christopher Kimball in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. I’ve been copying the piece for the last few weeks (I now copy for five minutes every day as part of my own Deliberate Practice) and, as a result, am paying more than normal attention to individual words.

And wouldn’t you know, I found one I couldn’t define, tenebrous. Here is the sentence in which it appeared:

The set is tenebrous with slasher-sequel gloom, and the cast appears breathless with fear. 

Tenebrous means dark, shadowy or obscure. I’m not sure why the writer, Alex Halberstadt, used it, except, perhaps to show off his big vocabulary. (Not a good enough reason, if you ask me.) The adjective dates back to an Old French word from the 11th century tenebreus meaning “full of darkness. In turn, that comes from the Latin term tenebrosus, meaning”darkness.”

Me? I prefer dark or shadowy.

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