Welcome to The "Sanguine" Home Page! The word sanguine comes from the Middle English word sanguin, from Old French, which in turn comes from the Latin word sanguineus, meaning blood or bloody, which comes from the word sanguis, of obscure origin. Pronounced san'guine, the word means, in a nutshell, red or cheerful. This web page studies the word sanguine in great depth, exploring its meanings, its composition, and its uses in classic literature.
The definition of "sanguine," as quoted from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913):
n. 1. Blood color; red. 2. Archaic Anything of a blood-red color, as cloth. 3. Bloodstone. 4. Red crayon.
v. t. 1. To stain with blood; to impart the color of blood to; to ensanguine.
adj. 1. Having the color of blood; red. 2. Characterized by abundance and active circulation of blood; a sanguine bodily temperament. 3. Warm; ardent; as, a sanguine temper. 4. Anticipating the best; not desponding; confident; full of hope; as, sanguine of success.
The definition of "sanguine," as quoted from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language:
adj. 1. a. Of the color of blood; red. b. Ruddy. 2. Archaic Dominated by the humor of blood in terms of medieval physiology. 3. Having the temperament and ruddy complexion formerly thought to be characteristic of a man dominated by this humor; passionate. 4. Eagerly optimistic; cheerful.
Derivatives of the word sanguine are sanguinely, sanguineous, sanguinity, sanguineness, and sanguineless.
In addition, there are several related words:
The word "sanguine" appears six times under five headings in Roget's Thesaurus. The entries appear as follows:
#434. Redness. -- Adj. red &c. n., reddish; rufous, ruddy, florid, incarnadine, sanguine; rosy, roseate; blowzy, blowed[obs3]; burnt; rubicund, rubiform[obs3]; lurid, stammell blood red[obs3]; russet buff, murrey[obs3], carroty[obs3], sorrel, lateritious[obs3]; rubineous[obs3], rubricate, rubricose[obs3], rufulous[obs3].
#484. Belief. -- N. belief; credence; credit; assurance; faith, trust, troth, confidence, presumption, sanguine expectation; dependence on, reliance on.
#507. Expectation. -- N. suspense, waiting, abeyance; curiosity; anxious expectation, ardent expectation, eager expectation, breathless expectation, sanguine expectation; torment of Tantalus.
#515. Imagination. -- N. warm imagination, heated imagination, excited imagination, sanguine imagination, ardent imagination, fiery imagination, boiling imagination, wild imagination, bold imagination, daring imagination, playful imagination, lively imagination, fertile imagination, fancy.
#858. Hope. -- N. hope, hopes; desire; fervent hope, sanguine expectation, trust, confidence, reliance; faith; affiance, assurance; secureness, security; reassurance. -- Adj. hoping; in hopes; hopeful, confident; secure; sanguine, in good heart, buoyed up, buoyant, elated, flushed, exultant, enthusiastic; heartsome[obs3]; utopian.
In dictionaries, the following examples are often given to illustrate the meaning of the word:
Other uses of "sanguine" in literature follow:
Novelist Jane Austen was particularly fond of the word "sanguine," using it sometimes as many as six times in a single novel. (Most of the time she used it to mean "hopeful" or "cheerful.") In Emma, she even makes use of the rarer word "sanguinely." The following is a selection of her uses of the word, though in the interests of conserving space they are not all present.
Pride and Prejudice:
When they were all in the drawing room, the questions which Elizabeth had already asked were of course repeated by the others, and they soon found that Jane had no intelligence to give. The sanguine hope of good, however, which the benevolence of her heart suggested, had not yet deserted her; she still expected that it would all end well, and that every morning would bring some letter, either from Lydia or her father, to explain their proceedings, and perhaps announce the marriage.
She had never heard of his having had any relations, except a father and mother, both of whom had been dead many years. It was possible, however, that some of his companions in the ----shire, might be able to give more information; and, though she was not very sanguine in expecting it, the application was a something to look forward to.
Mrs. Weston agreed to it; but added, that she should be very glad to be secure of undergoing the anxiety of a first meeting at the time talked of: "for I cannot depend upon his coming. I cannot be so sanguine as Mr. Weston. I am very much afraid that it will all end in nothing."
There is jealousy. They are jealous even of his regard for his father. In short, I can feel no dependence on his coming, and I wish Mr. Weston were less sanguine.
Mrs. Weston was exceedingly disappointed--much more disappointed, in fact, than her husband, though her dependence on seeing the young man had been so much more sober: but a sanguine temper, though for ever expecting more good than occurs, does not always pay for its hopes by any proportionate depression.
Mrs. Bates was engaged to spend the evening at Hartfield, James had due notice, and he sanguinely hoped that neither dear little Henry nor dear little John would have any thing the matter with them, while dear Emma were gone.
His sanguine temper, and fearlessness of mind, operated very differently on her. She saw in it but an aggravation of the evil.
All his sanguine expectations, all his confidence had been justified. His genius and ardour had seemed to foresee and to command his prosperous path.
Their eager affection in meeting, their exquisite delight in being together, their hours of happy mirth, and moments of serious conference, may be imagined; as well as the sanguine views and spirits of the boy even to the last, and the misery of the girl when he left her.
The $30,000 Request:
The citizens seemed to be full of life and good-humor; but poor Elfonzo saw not a brilliant scene. No; his future life stood before him, stripped of the hopes that once adorned all his sanguine desires. "Alas!" said he, "am I now Grief's disappointed son at last."
Far From the Madding Crowd:
Sanguine by nature, Troy had a power of eluding grief by simply adjourning it. He could put off the consideration of any particular spectre till the matter had become old and softened by time.
Jude the Obscure:
The prospects of the newly married couple were certainly not very brilliant even to the most sanguine mind. He, a stone-mason's apprentice, nineteen years of age, was working for half wages till he should be out of his time. His wife was absolutely useless in a town-lodging, where he at first had considered it would be necessary for them to live.
The Count of Monte Cristo:
He had learned that Dantes had been taken to prison, and he had gone to all his friends, and the influential persons of the city; but the report was already in circulation that Dantes was arrested as a Bonapartist agent; and as the most sanguine looked upon any attempt of Napoleon to remount the throne as impossible, he met with nothing but refusal, and had returned home in despair, declaring that the matter was serious and that nothing more could be done.
In Adventure, Jack London uses the word "sanguine" by its "red or bloody" meaning less commonly found in classical literature. Ironically, this same word usually used to describe a person of a cheery or hopeful nature is used here to depict the foul face of evil itself.
The Tahitian watched Satan coolly, and when that sanguine-mouthed creature lifted into the air in the final leap, the man's hand shot out. It was a fair grip on the lower jaw, and Satan described a half circle and was flung to the rear, turning over in the air and falling heavily on his back.
In The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde uses the word "sanguine" in a more abstract sense than usual -- with it, he paints a vivid picture of Dorian Gray's emotional state.
The Picture of Dorian Gray:
Three o'clock struck, and four, and the half-hour rang its double chime, but Dorian Gray did not stir. He was trying to gather up the scarlet threads of life and to weave them into a pattern; to find his way through the sanguine labyrinth of passion through which he was wandering.
Here, the greatest playwright of all time elegantly uses the word "sanguine" as part of a put-down.
The First Part of King Henry the Fourth:
Henry, Prince of Wales, son to the King: "I'll be no longer guilty, of this sin; this sanguine coward, this bed-presser, this horseback-breaker, this huge hill of flesh--"
The count had seated himself with all the ceremonious politeness becoming a country caller. Only his hands were trembling slightly. Lust, which Nana's skillful tactics daily exasperated, had at last wrought terrible havoc in that sanguine, uncontaminated nature.
At length it came to Fosdick's turn. He entered with no very sanguine anticipations of success. Unlike Roswell, he set a very low estimate upon his qualifications when compared with those of other applicants.
There was a tinge of sadness in his tone, as he pronounced the last four words; but Dick's temperament was sanguine, and he never gave way to unavailing sadness.
In the end, spite of dreams that sadden
The sad or the sanguine madden,
There is nothing to grieve or gladden,
There is nothing to hope or fear.
Are we wise? Our abstruse calculations
Are based on experience long;
Are we sanguine? Our high expectations
Are founded on hope that is strong;
Thus we build an air-castle that crumbles
And drifts till no traces remain,
And the fool builds again while he grumbles,
And the wise one laughs, building again.
Thomas Jefferson to Robert Fulton, 1807:
"Neither a nation nor those entrusted with its affairs could be justifiable, however sanguine their expectations, in trusting solely to an engine not yet sufficiently tried under all the circumstances which may occur, and against which we know not as yet what means of parrying may be devised."
It is repugnant to reason, to the universal order of things, to all examples from former ages, to suppose, that this continent can longer remain subject to any external power. The most sanguine in Britain does not think so. The utmost stretch of human wisdom cannot, at this time, compass a plan short of separation, which can promise the continent even a year's security.
The Federalist Papers:
The circumstances of the dispute between Connecticut and Pennsylvania, respecting the land at Wyoming, admonish us not to be sanguine in expecting an easy accommodation of such differences.
The most sanguine advocates for three or four confederacies cannot reasonably suppose that they would long remain exactly on an equal footing in point of strength, even if it was possible to form them so at first; but, admitting that to be practicable, yet what human contrivance can secure the continuance of such equality?
These circumstances combined, admonish us not to be too sanguine in considering ourselves as entirely out of the reach of danger.
The History of the Conquest of Mexico, Book V: Expulsion From Mexico:
Stung with shame at the facility with which he had been duped by his wily foe, or rather by his own sanguine hopes, Cortes threw himself into the saddle, and, followed by his brave companions, galloped back at full speed to the scene of action.
Even Victor Appleton, author of the Tom Swift books for young boys, made use of the word "sanguine" in the series entry about an electric train. Young boys of the era may or may not have known what the word meant; in any case, it is highly doubtful that juvenile literature would ever make use of the word today, an age where books play down to their audience's intelligence rather than up to it.
Tom Swift and His Electric Locomotive, or Two Miles a Minute on the Rails:
Mr. Damon was quite as much interested in this invention as he always was in anything the young inventor worked upon. When he had once seen the Hercules 0001 work on an up-grade he was doubly enthusiastic. To his sanguine mind the locomotive was already completed. He could see no possibility of failure.