- Gloomy and funereal, particularly to an exaggerated degree
- Depressing or bleak
Sadness is a reality of life, but some poor souls live like they're always preparing for the next funeral. These ultra-pessimists almost seem to revel in gloom, using excessive sadness to form part of their identity: no matter the situation, you can count on them to find something discouraging in it. Luckily for those of us who like happiness, though, lugubrious moods, depressing as they may be, tend to pass with time.
To be lugubrious means to be deeply pessimistic and mournful. The word implies a much stronger feeling than simple sadness: those who are lugubrious are veritably inundated with gloom, to the point where their every word is shaded in gray and their movements seem slowed by invisible weights. Lugubrious describes such a potent sense of sadness that it often refers to an absurd or affected state, such as that of a toddler who pulls a long face all day after his mom turns off the cartoons. The most common uses of the word characterize people who are feeling downcast, but it can also indicate that an inanimate object is depressing or in some other way inspires feelings of hopelessness. For example, an excessively dreary philosophy about life could be called lugubrious, as could the charred remains of a burned-down apartment building.
Example: Thinking about her deceased mother often made Jennifer feel lugubrious for days.
Example: After weeks of listening to his dreary complaints, my coworker's lugubrious attitude was starting to get on my nerves.
Example: Chopping down the stately pine tree left a lugubrious stump in the field.
Pain or discomfort are common causes of a lugubrious countenance, so perhaps it makes sense that the origins of the word go at least as far back as the Proto-Indo-European root leug-, which means "to harm or inflict hurt." The long "U" sound in this root would inspire sadness-related words in several languages, including the Greek lygros (literally, "sad"), the Sanskrit rujati ("breaks the will of" or "saddens"), and the Latin lugere, a verb that translates to "to mourn or lament." Lugere's adjective form in Latin, lugubris, is the closest relative of the modern English lugubrious.
The English version of lugubris was formed by the addition of -ious, which, along with its cousin, -eous, is a variation of the suffix ous. These suffixes, all three of which are understood to mean "full of" or "characterized by," have frequently been used in English to modify Latin and Greek words to better fit the Anglican speech pattern.
The use of lugubrious in English, -ious suffix and all, was first recorded around 1600.
Lugubriousness: This noun refers to the quality of excessive mournfulness.
Example: Soon, I began listen to music as I worked simply as an excuse to avoid my coworker's lugubriousness.
Lugubriously: This adverb form of lugubrious describes an action as being done with heady gloom.
Example: "Why even ask for a raise? We're all just going to die someday anyway," my coworker said lugubriously when I foolishly asked him for advice.
From Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits:
The place was full of dust and spiderwebs, and looked thoroughly abandoned; clearly in all these years none of the tenant farmers had dared to leave his hut to move into the large, empty house of the absent owner. They had not touched the furniture; it was all as it had been when he was a child, each piece exactly where it had stood before, except uglier, and more lugubrious and rickety than he remembered.
Visiting his long-abandoned childhood home, Allende's narrator, Esteban, finds the interior desolate, grim, and thoroughly lugubrious.
- Lugubrious lugs around its sadness
- The gloom of lugubrious can make you sluggish
Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of lugubrious. Did you use lugubrious in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.