Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To give a sketchy outline of.
  • transitive v. To prefigure indistinctly; foreshadow.
  • transitive v. To disclose partially or guardedly.
  • transitive v. To overshadow; shadow or obscure.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To foreshadow vaguely.
  • v. To give a vague outline.
  • v. To obscure or overshadow.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To give a faint shadow or slight representation of; to outline; to shadow forth.
  • transitive v. To overshadow; to shade.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To overshadow; partially darken or conceal.
  • Figuratively, to give a faint shadow or resemblance of; outline or shadow forth; foreshadow; prefigure.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. describe roughly or briefly or give the main points or summary of
  • v. give to understand

Etymologies

Latin adumbrāre, adumbrāt-, to represent in outline : ad-, ad- + umbra, shadow.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin adumbrātus "represented in outline", from adumbrāre "cast a shadow on", from umbra "shadow". (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Some there are who boldly state
    And scholars plainly explicate,
    But others prefer
    To hint and refer
    And by indirection adumbrate.

    September 27, 2014

  • A fancy way of saying 'sketch out' or something of the sort

    December 20, 2009

  • "What adumbrates the neural coagulate, still sending its runners off, fetchingly, here and there."

    John Latta, Isola di Rifiuti

    January 26, 2007