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From Middle English *gloom, *glom, from Old English glōm (gloaming, twilight, darkness), from Proto-West Germanic *glōm, from Proto-Germanic *glōmaz (gleam, shimmer, sheen), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰley- (to gleam, shimmer, glow). The English word is cognate with Norwegian glom (transparent membrane), Scots gloam (twilight; faint light; dull gleam).



gloom (usually uncountable, plural glooms)

  1. Darkness, dimness, or obscurity.
    the gloom of a forest, or of midnight
    • 1898, J. Meade Falkner, chapter 4, in Moonfleet, London, Toronto, Ont.: Jonathan Cape, published 1934:
      Here was a surprise, and a sad one for me, for I perceived that I had slept away a day, and that the sun was setting for another night. And yet it mattered little, for night or daytime there was no light to help me in this horrible place; and though my eyes had grown accustomed to the gloom, I could make out nothing to show me where to work.
    • 2022 January 12, “News in pictures: Repatriated '66s' return home”, in RAIL, number 948, page 20:
      On December 13, Maritime-liveried 66051 powers out of the early morning gloom with three repatriated Class 66s, on the 0809 Dollands Moor Sidings-Scunthorpe Redbourne Siding.
  2. A depressing, despondent, or melancholic atmosphere.
    • 1855, Robert Browning, “‘Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.’”, in Men and Women [], volume I, London: Chapman and Hall, [], →OCLC, stanza 19, page 142:
      A sudden little river crossed my path / As unexpected as a serpent comes. / No sluggish tide congenial to the glooms— / This, as it frothed by, might have been a bath / For the fiend's glowing hoof—to see the wrath / Of its black eddy bespate with flakes and spumes.
    • 1956, “Heartbreak Hotel”, Mae Boren Axton, Tommy Durden, Elvis Presley (lyrics), performed by Elvis Presley:
      Although it's always crowded
      You still can find some room
      For broken-hearted lovers
      To cry there in their gloom.
  3. Cloudiness or heaviness of mind; melancholy; aspect of sorrow; low spirits; dullness.
    • 1770, Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents:
      A sullen gloom and furious disorder prevailed by fits.
  4. A drying oven used in gunpowder manufacture.

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gloom (third-person singular simple present glooms, present participle glooming, simple past and past participle gloomed)

  1. (intransitive) To be dark or gloomy.
    • 1770, [Oliver] Goldsmith, The Deserted Village, a Poem, London: [] W. Griffin, [], →OCLC, page 17:
      Here, while the proud their long drawn pomps diſplay, / There the black gibbet glooms beſide the way.
    • 1891, Mary Noailles Murfree, In the "Stranger People's" Country, Nebraska, published 2005, page 189:
      Around all the dark forest gloomed.
  2. (intransitive) To look or feel sad, sullen or despondent.
    • 1882, W. Marshall, Strange Chapman, volume 2, page 170:
      Her face gathers, furrows, glooms; arching eyebrows wrinkle into horizontals, and a tinge of bitterness unsmooths the cheek and robs the lip of sweetened grace. She is evidently perturbed.
    • a. 1930, D. H. Lawrence, The Lovely Lady:
      Ciss was a big, dark-complexioned, pug-faced young woman who seemed to be glooming about something.
    • 1904 November 10, Henry James, chapter XVI, in The Golden Bowl, volume I, New York, N.Y.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, →OCLC, book first (The Prince), part third, page 283:
      "Is Maggie then astonishing too?"—and he gloomed out of his window.
    • 1930, Norman Lindsay, Redheap, Sydney, N.S.W.: Ure Smith, published 1965, →OCLC, page 85:
      He gloomed for some moments above the round-topped table[.]
  3. (transitive) To render gloomy or dark; to obscure; to darken.
  4. (transitive) To fill with gloom; to make sad, dismal, or sullen.
  5. To shine or appear obscurely or imperfectly; to glimmer.