• The good news was foreshadowed by several disturbing events.
  • The good news was adumbrated by several disturbing events.

I am trying to see which word is better to use. Is there a (subtle) distinction between the two words? I know the word "adumbrated" is more formal as opposed to using the word "foreshadowed", but that word sounds better, in my opinion; or at least, it sounds better in the particular sentence as shown in the sandbox.

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    If your goal is to confuse your reader, use "adumbrated".
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 13, 2019 at 13:00
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    You're asking a number of interesting but opinion-based questions. Your sample sentence doesn't work well with either of the two words (why would something good anticipate something disturbing?). Adumbrate means a number of things, but where it overlaps with foreshadow, the former is weaker (only a hint). And really, assessing a neologism is difficult (and usually makes for a poor question here).
    – Mitch
    Feb 13, 2019 at 13:19
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    I am truly vestibulated by your adulatorial selection of incondefoundable words. We must meet immediately and counterdifibulate about a new dictionary.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 13, 2019 at 15:35
  • 1
    @NigelJ -- No, no, no! A new cyclopedia of onomastics!
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 13, 2019 at 22:02
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    @user477343 - Since the two parts are unrelated, and since separate questions have to be posted as separate questions, I took out the second part. You can post it as a separate question if you wish. I didn't do that for you because I didn't understand it well enough. // Do you know how to edit a question? You can improve it after you get feedback. You're not stuck with whatever you initially typed. Feb 16, 2019 at 20:36

1 Answer 1


The most important difference between the two words is that foreshadowed is a commonly used word, particularly in literature and drama, while adumbrated is so rarely used that I do not recall having heard of it before and I certainly did not know what it meant when I read this question. (And I have what is considered an excellent vocabulary.) Google's ngram viewer shows foreshadowed is used about 5 times as often as adumbrated.

Certain literary magazines prefer to use obscure words to expose them to their readers, thereby improving their reader's vocabularies. Those magazines might choose to use adumbrated. People who want to be understood would use foreshadowed.

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