Word: lugubrious

Pronunciation: lə-G(Y)OO-bree-əs

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: looking or sounding sad and dismal

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


I had absolutely no idea what this word meant the first time I heard it. In fact, if anyone had asked me back then to guess the definition, I might have said that it probably had to do with slime or gooeyness of some sort. Of course, this seems like a rather silly guess when you consider that one of the earliest memories I can recall of hearing this word in context was watching Pain greet Hades as “Your Most Lugubriousness” in the 1997 Disney film Hercules. Eternally ablaze the god of the underworld may have been, but slimy he most certainly was not. But what else was he for sure? Dismal.

When something is described as “lugubrious”, it has a mournful and gloomy air to it (e.g. lugubrious ballads). This definition comes from the word’s root in the Latin verb lugere, meaning “to mourn” or “grieve”. It’s worth noting, however, that of several different synonyms for the word “glum”, “lugubrious” is possibly the heaviest. While a “sullen” person is naturally ill-humored and “melancholy” is a somewhat chronic form of sadness, anything “lugubrious” is dismal to the point of exaggeration. This may explain why it’s one of my best friend’s favorite words; his sense of humor sometimes involves slightly melodramatic descriptions of his own melancholy observations!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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