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Borrowed from Middle French caligineux (misty; obscure), or directly from its Latin etymon cālīginōsus (misty; dark, obscure). Cālīginōsus is derived from cālīgō, cālīginis (fog, mist, vapour; darkness, gloom)) + -ōsus (suffix meaning ‘full of, prone to’ forming adjectives from nouns).[1]



caliginous (comparative more caliginous, superlative most caliginous)

  1. (archaic or literary) Dark, obscure; murky.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:dark
    Antonyms: see Thesaurus:shining
    • 1809, Edward Wells, “Of St. Paul’s Travels and Voyages into Phrygia, Galatia, Mysia, Troas, Macedonia, Achaia, &c. till His Fourth Return to Jerusalem, after His Conversion”, in An Historical Geography of the Old and New Testament: In Two Volumes, volume II, Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, OCLC 16907393, section I (Of St. Paul’s Travels, from His Leaving Jerusalem, after the Council there Held, to His Departure out of the Asiatic Continent for Europe), page 258:
      Hierapolis is ſeated over-againſt Laodicea, where are to be ſeen baths of hot waters, and the Plutonium. [] The Plutonium is under the brow of the hill, the entrance into which is no wider than that a man can thruſt himſelf through; yet it is very deep within, of a quadrangular form, containing about the compaſs of half an acre, and is filled with ſuch a thick and caliginous air, that the ground cannot be ſeen.
    • 1869 November, “The Land of the Malay: A Record of Travel in the Oriental Tropics”, in [Thomas] Mayne Reid, editor, Onward: A Magazine for the Young Manhood of America, New York, N.Y.: Onward Publishing Office, OCLC 8717398, page 491:
      By the time breakfast was announced, the land had faded into a thin caliginous streak; and, except passing a huge unwieldy Chinese junk, which lay at anchor, though her lateen sails were hoisted, nothing worthy of note occurred during the day.
    • 1981, T[homas] Coraghessan Boyle, “The Niger”, in Water Music, Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown, →ISBN; republished London: Granta Books, 1998, →ISBN, page 155:
      Inside the atmosphere was rank and caliginous: fumes rose from puddles, groans sifted through the shadows.
    • 2010, Francis Wheen, Strange Days Indeed: The Golden Age of Paranoia, paperback edition, London: Fourth Estate, HarperCollins Publishers, →ISBN, page 21:
      They say the darkest hour is just before the dawn, and caliginous thoughts often swirled through his murky, insomniac mind as he lay awake []

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