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See also: Tenebrae



With regressive dissimilation (*m-b > n-b) from *temabrāi, nominalized feminine plural from Proto-Italic *temazros (dark), from Proto-Indo-European *temH-(e)s-ro-, from *temH-. Related to temere.



tenebrae f pl (genitive tenebrārum); first declension

  1. darkness, especially the darkness of night
    Antonym: lūx
    • 405 CE, Jerome, Vulgate Genesis.1.2:
      Terra autem erat inanis et vacua et tenebrae super faciem abyssi et spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas.
      And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters.
  2. (poetic) shadow of death
  3. prison, dungeon
    Synonym: carcer
  4. (by extension) gloom or darkness of the mind
    • 1359, Franciscus Petrarca, “Franciscus Petrarca Agapito de Columna S. P. D.: Ægre fert incusari se ob partas divitias amicorum oblivione captum insolescere.” (epistola VIII, pages 28–34), in Josephus Fracassettus, editor, Epistolæ de Rebus Familiaribus et Variæ, volume III, Florentia: Felix Le Monnier, published 1863, book XX, pages 30–31:
      Quamquam si illustres ævi nostri viros attigissem, non dicam te, ne tibi, quod placatus non soleo, iratus adulari videar, at certe nec patruum, nec patrem tuum silentio oppressurus fuerim. Nolui autem pro tam paucis nominibus claris, tam procul tantasque per tenebras stilum ferre: ideoque vel materiæ vel labori parcens, longe ante hoc sæculum historiæ limitem statui ac defixi.
      And yet had I touched upon illustrious men of our time, I will not say that I should have introduced your name (lest in my present anger I should seem to flatter you, a thing which is not my habit even when well disposed), but most assuredly I should not have passed over in silence either your uncle or your father. I did not wish for the sake of so few famous names, however, to guide my pen so far and through such darkness. Therefore sparing myself the excess both of subject-matter and of effort, I have determined to fix a limit to my history long before this century.
      1942 translation by Theodor Ernst Mommsen[1]


First-declension noun, plural only.

Case Plural
Nominative tenebrae
Genitive tenebrārum
Dative tenebrīs
Accusative tenebrās
Ablative tenebrīs
Vocative tenebrae

Related terms[edit]



  • tenebrae”, in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • tenebrae”, in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • tenebrae in Charles du Fresne du Cange’s Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (augmented edition with additions by D. P. Carpenterius, Adelungius and others, edited by Léopold Favre, 1883–1887)
  • tenebrae in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré latin-français, Hachette.