From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



Borrowed from Latin adumbrātus (represented in outline), from adumbrāre (cast a shadow on), from umbra (shadow).


  • IPA(key): /ˈædʌmˌbɹeɪt/
  • (file)


adumbrate (third-person singular simple present adumbrates, present participle adumbrating, simple past and past participle adumbrated)

  1. To foreshadow vaguely.
    • 1962 October, G. Freeman Allen, “The New Look in Scotland's Northern Division—II”, in Modern Railways, page 270:
      From track level, its operating floor looks particularly capacious, but there is a vacant space at one end which was designed to accommodate the control panel for the Perth-Inverness C.T.C. scheme; this was adumbrated as long ago as the 1955 Modernisation Plan, but now seems to be regarded as an unjustifiable luxury.
    • 2020, Kristen Figgins, “The Integrity of Nature”, in Jonathan Elmore, editor, Fiction and the Sixth Mass Extinction, Rowman & Littlefield, →ISBN:
      This piece will perform a micro-excavation of these toplayers of the literary soil to suggest anxiogenic literature has the potential not only to adumbrate the post-apocalypse, a common theme in contemporary literature, but also to anticipate the post-Anthropocene.
  2. To give a vague outline.
    • 1996, John M. Cooper, “Introduction”, in Plato: Complete Works, Hackett, page xxii:
      Accordingly, even though readers always and understandably speak of the theories adumbrated by Socrates here as "Plato's theories", one ought not to speak of them so without some compunction--the writing itself, and also Plato the author, present these always in a spirit of open-ended exploration, and sometimes there are contextual clues indicating that Socrates exaggerates or goes what the argument truly justifies, and so on.
  3. To obscure or overshadow.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]






  1. second-person plural present active imperative of adumbrō