Saturnine is all about gloom and doom, feeling sad and left out. It is the expression on your face when you are dumped by your girlfriend or boyfriend and the sullenness is hard to hide under your veneer of strength.
The dictionary definitions for saturnine are as follows:
1. Having the temperament of one born under the supposed astrological influence of Saturn.
2. Melancholy or sullen.
Having or marked by a tendency to be bitter or sardonic: a saturnine expression on his face.
3. Produced by absorption of lead
Origin of the words Saturnine and Saturnalia:
This is one word with hell of an interesting story behind it. And the deeper you dig into it, the more confusing it gets.
The words, saturnine and saturnalia, as you can guess, are related to the word Saturn. Yes, this is the same Saturn that revolves as the sixth planet around the sun in our solar system. Saturn the planet in turn derived its name from Saturn, the Roman God of agriculture and harvest. Since the harvest god was so important to his people, his name was lent to the planet as well as Saturday, the day. All of this sounds good but there is still a doubt in our minds: how come a deity’s name is associated with a word such as saturnine?
The word saturnine has in fact taken the properties of the planet Saturn. Saturn is the 6th planet from the sun, and was regarded as dark, gloomy, chilly and remote. This meant that these properties of Saturn were transported to saturnine, and we have a word that means gloomy or sullen.
The second word that comes from the same mythological origins is saturnalia. If saturnine is all about gloom, then saturnalia is all about glitz and revelry. Saturnalia is these days used to refer to ‘A wild gathering involving excessive drinking and promiscuity’. And its origin will pretty much justify this meaning.
Saturn was a deity of the harvest and the Roman’s as a mark of respect built a temple to honor Saturn on the Capitoline hill. Originally, on December 17 a day long feast called Saturnalia was celebrated to commemorate the winter planting of crops. With time, this was extended to a week and this time was celebrated as time of revelry and the giving of presents. During this period, all rules of conventional etiquette of the time were broken, slaves and masters exchanged their roles and moral restrictions were loosened. Thus, it was a time of drunken merrymaking and festivities. And to this day, the word saturnalia has managed to retain its flavor and is associated with such drunken merrymaking.
Masters tip to remember Saturnine:
The association for saturnine is very simple:
Saturnine = the feeling one has when one has a break up.
Remember this little nugget of information and you should be able to learn this word easily.
Usage examples for Saturnine:
1. Mandy, was unusually friendly for one with a saturnine disposition, and, as long as his theory that money was earned by marketers was not challenged, was quite companionable.
2. Having a saturnine disposition in the middle of a party is something that is not recommended.
3. It is but obvious that one would have a saturnine expression after one’s break up.