fu·​lig·​i·​nous fyu̇-ˈli-jə-nəs How to pronounce fuliginous (audio)
: sooty
: having a dark or dusky color
fuliginously adverb

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Fuliginous is a word with a dark and dirty past - it derives from "fuligo," the Latin word for "soot." In an early sense (now obsolete), "fuliginous" was used to describe noxious bodily vapors once thought to be produced by organic processes. The "sooty" sense, which English speakers have been using since the early 1620s, can be used to describe everything from dense fogs and malevolent clouds to overworked chimney sweeps. "Fuliginous" can also be used to refer to something dark or dusky, as in Henry James' novel The Ambassadors, in which the character Waymarsh is described as having "dark fuliginous eyes."

Example Sentences

a fuliginous prose style that's not exactly ideal for writing for the mass media

Word History


borrowed from Late Latin fūlīginōsus "covered with soot," from Latin fūlīgin-, fūlīgō "soot" + -ōsus -ous; fūlīgō, from fūlī- (going back to Indo-European *dhuh2-li- "smoke, dust," whence also Sanskrit dhūli- "dust," Lithuanian dū́lis "mist, dust from tree rot used to drive out bees") + -gin-, -gō, suffix denoting something coating or enveloping, usually undesirable, as rōbīgō "rust," mellīgō "bee glue"

Note: Indo-European *dhuh2-li- is usually taken to be a nominal derivative of the verbal base *dhu̯eh2- or *dheu̯h2- "produce smoke by burning"—see fume entry 1.

First Known Use

1597, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of fuliginous was in 1597


Dictionary Entries Near fuliginous

Cite this Entry

“Fuliginous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fuliginous. Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

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