Definition of adumbrate in English:



  • 1Represent in outline:

    ‘Hobhouse had already adumbrated the idea of a welfare state’
    • ‘Some of the matters I have already adumbrated seem to me to bear upon that.’
    • ‘An introduction sketches the book's key terms and thereby adumbrates its themes, especially the principal pair of beauty and the infinite.’
    • ‘This latter course, in fact, is already adumbrated at certain junctures in the Opus Postumum.’
    • ‘As to 5: The answer is plainly ‘Yes’ and for the reasons already adumbrated.’
    • ‘Here then, already adumbrated, is the double emphasis on heaven and home, or on home as heaven.’
    • ‘The outlines of the legend of the politically naïve scholar are already adumbrated in the biographical essay Heidegger submitted to the de-Nazification committee in 1945.’
    • ‘Like any short introduction, it does not have time to say very much, but what it does say is enough to adumbrate the major ideas to follow.’
    • ‘(Reading across texts for a moment, this idea has been adumbrated in Kundera's earlier book Laughable Loves ).’
    1. 1.1 Indicate faintly:
      ‘the walls were only adumbrated by the meagre light’
      augur, presage, portend, foretell, prophesy, predict
      View synonyms
  • 2Foreshadow (a future event):

    ‘tenors solemnly adumbrate the fate of the convicted sinner’
    • ‘Toward the middle of her 1928 novel Quicksand, Nella Larsen thematizes her authorial relation to the literary past in a scene that uncannily adumbrates the future demise of her career.’
  • 3Overshadow:

    ‘her happy reminiscences were adumbrated by consciousness of something else’
    • ‘Consciousness does not perspectivally adumbrate itself.’


Late 16th century: from Latin adumbrat- shaded, from the verb adumbrare, from ad- to (as an intensifier) + umbrare cast a shadow (from umbra shade).