Definitions

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

  • adj. Of a dark, dull, or somber color.
  • n. Dark, dull clothing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Having subdued colors.
  • n. Dark clothing.
  • n. Clothing acceptable, by regulation at certain universities, for an examination or official event.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Same as subfuscous.
  • adj. Drab; dingy; dull.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • See subfusk.

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

  • adj. devoid of brightness or appeal

Etymologies

Latin subfuscus, brownish : sub-, sub- + fuscus, dark.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the Latin subfuscus, moderately dark. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • I believe they're all around us, but it's increasingly hard "to distinguish their gleam," as an English critic, Edward Garnett, was already lamenting in 1922, "amid the subfusc, swollen cataract of stories made to order."

    Are British or American Writers Better?

  • Sage's subfusc elegance serves as an all-purpose foil for food that represents his personal version of dishes that are hot all around the gastro-stratosphere.

    Taking a Chance on Vegas's New Spots

  • If you continue to labour under the delusion that your subfusc sniping constitutes debate then of course I would have no wish to disabuse you of this irredeemable condition, thank you.

    On Thursday, the Legg report will be published along with...

  • Thick carpet, subfusc curtains of pseudo-empire pattern and gilt-legged chairs combined to disseminate the atmosphere of a mausoleum.

    The Nursing Home Murder

  • This dusty and tedious little patch of time -- could she safely label it "drab" and have done with it, or would she find herself one day living through a period so relentlessly subfusc that this present lozenge would seem, by contrast, gay?

    Mrs. Miniver

  • I was in knickerbockers and khaki shirt; Mifflin in greasy gray flannels and subfusc Norfolk.

    Shandygaff

  • Paul, dramatically conscious of what the unrecognized prince would do in such a circumstance, advanced, smacked his face, plucked the cocked hat from his head, the sword from his hand, and invested himself with these insignia of leadership, Billy melted silently into the subfusc air of Budge Street.

    The Fortunate Youth

  • A pair of subfusc coloured trousers creased and looking absolutely new were presented to him in the same manner.

    The Man Who Lost Himself

  • Having inducted him into a pink silk under vest and a soft pleated shirt, with plain gold links in the sleeves, each button of the said links having in its centre a small black pearl, a collar and a subfusc coloured silk tie were added to him, also a black morning vest and a black morning coat, with rather broad braid at the edges.

    The Man Who Lost Himself

  • Swells 'pinched-up countenance, with jutting eyebrows and practically no cheeks, had under George's racing-cap of "peacock blue" a subfusc hue like that of old furniture.

    The Country House

Comments

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  • "Many of them were wearing the undergraduate subfusc, in various states of dishevelment."
    The September Society by Charles Finch, p 31

    December 11, 2011

  • This sounds so much like a modern no-time-to-say-the-whole-word form, that I was surprised to learn it goes back to the 18th century.

    I think I like it.

    August 14, 2008

  • The Thespian, sipping the subfusc fluid, sighs 'I always drink it. Tastes exactly like draught Guinness.'

    - Peter Reading, Festival, from Fiction, 1979

    June 26, 2008

  • "...Stephen, looking stuffed and sullen in his rarely-worn good coat, a comparatively subfusc garment."
    --Patrick O'Brian, The Far Side of the World, 57

    February 19, 2008