Meaning of subfusc in English:


Pronunciation /ˈsʌbfʌsk/


  • Dull; gloomy.

    ‘the light was subfusc and aqueous’
    • ‘But while Bill Alexander's new production has a fine, sombre, subfusc dignity, there were times when I guiltily hungered for a little more playful malevolence.’
    • ‘Houses hunched like weary giants, wrapped in subfusc cloaks of night.’
    • ‘One remembers how audibly and visibly subfusc was the almost apologetic chorus in their otherwise excellent opera, Don Carlo.’
    • ‘Next, the costumes (by Toni-Leslie James), strictly subfusc, registering against Riccardo Hernández's brown set as murk on murk.’
    • ‘The original hues of the Crucifixion from S Giacomo degli Spagnoli (displayed in SS Marcellino e Festo) have been transformed into an unfortunate and unalterable subfusc.’
    dark, ill-lit, poorly lit, shadowy, sunless, dim, sombre, dingy, frowzy, drab, dismal, dreary, murky, depressing, unwelcoming, uninviting, cheerless, joyless, comfortless, funereal


mass nounBritish
  • The dark formal clothing worn for examinations and formal occasions at some universities.

    ‘Well I guess I ought to get out of my subfusc, wipe the smudged makeup off my face and find some food.’
    • ‘Our readers should know he cut a fine figure in subfusc on his way to his viva.’
    • ‘One history finalist said, ‘We have to put up with University's traditions, wearing subfusc and the like, but they're not prepared to put up with ours.’’


Early 18th century from Latin subfuscus, from sub- ‘somewhat’ + fuscus ‘dark brown’.