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[a-duhm-breyt, ad-uh m-breyt] /æˈdʌm breɪt, ˈæd əmˌbreɪt/
verb (used with object), adumbrated, adumbrating.
to produce a faint image or resemblance of; to outline or sketch.
to foreshadow; prefigure.
to darken or conceal partially; overshadow.
Origin of adumbrate
1575-85; < Latin adumbrātus shaded (past participle of adumbrāre), equivalent to ad- ad- + umbr(a) shade, shadow + -ātus -ate1
Related forms
adumbration, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for adumbrate
Historical Examples
  • One could adumbrate triumph or disaster by the effort, sustained or otherwise, made by them.

    The Soul of Susan Yellam Horace Annesley Vachell
  • Feeble is human speech to deal with such high matters, serving, at the best, but dimly to adumbrate ineffable truths.

  • But it is now time to state, or rather faintly to adumbrate, the grand assumption of this singular work.

  • A type is a symbol appointed by God to adumbrate something higher in the future, which is called the antitype.

    Companion to the Bible E. P. Barrows
  • There had, in truth, scarcely yet been time enough to adumbrate the possibilities opened up by this gentleman's return.

    A Laodicean Thomas Hardy
British Dictionary definitions for adumbrate


verb (transitive)
to outline; give a faint indication of
to foreshadow
to overshadow; obscure
Derived Forms
adumbration, noun
adumbrative (ædˈʌmbrətɪv) adjective
adumbratively, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Latin adumbrātus represented only in outline, from adumbrāre to cast a shadow on, from umbra shadow
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for adumbrate

"to outline, to sketch," 1580s, from Latin adumbratus "sketched, shadowed in outline," past participle of adumbrare "to represent (a thing) in outline" (see adumbration). Meaning "to overshadow" is 1660s. Related: Adumbrated; adumbrating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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