Medieval alchemists ascribed to the planet Saturn a gloomy and slow character. When people are called saturnine, it means they are like the planet — gloomy, mean, scowling. Not exactly the life of the party.

Saturnine is a word you don't hear often nowadays, though you probably know people with saturnine dispositions. The ultimate saturnine character in literature is Heathcliff — and for clarification's sake, that would be the brooding, bitter, brooding, obsessive hero of Wuthering Heights, not the lovably pudgy cat of comic-strip fame.

Definitions of saturnine

adj bitter or scornful

“"the face was saturnine and swarthy, and the sensual lips...twisted with disdain"- Oscar Wilde”
expressing or expressive of ridicule that wounds

adj showing a brooding ill humor

“"a saturnine, almost misanthropic young genius"- Bruce Bliven”
dark, dour, glowering, glum, moody, morose, sour, sullen
having an irritable and unpleasant disposition

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