Meaning of adumbrate


To adumbrate something is to outline it. In an English essay, you could adumbrate the themes in a novel; or, in a letter to Santa, you could adumbrate all the ways you have been behaving.

Adumbrate is built on the Latin root umbra, “shade,” and the image it evokes is of a shadow being cast around something. Your outline is like a shadow of something bigger — like the themes in that novel or the ways you have been behaving. You can also use adumbrate to mean “foreshadow”: “The scene where the princess dreams of the vampire adumbrates her later discovery that her little brother is, in fact, a vampire.”

Definitions of adumbrate
  1. verb

    describe roughly or briefly or give the main points or summary of


    outline, sketch

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    block out

    indicate roughly
    type of:

    depict, describe, draw

    give a description of

  2. verb

    give to understand


    insinuate, intimate

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    type of:

    hint, suggest

    drop a hint; intimate by a hint

Word Family

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