The Meaning of Brooding: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of brooding? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word brooding, including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word brooding mean?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language and Cambridge English Language Dictionary, the word brooding is an adjective that can be used to mean feeling sad, worries, angry, or uncomfortable, as well as the present tense form of the verb brood, meaning to ruminate. Someone who is brooding might write poetry in the subdued light of dusk or twilight to release their emotions. This brooding frame of mind might cause a melancholy young man to think of painful memories. Brooding seriousness is not healthy long term. If you feel sad all the time, seek help. 

While brooding can refer to chickens or a brood hen using the warmth of the body and her feathers to incubate and hatch eggs in a nest, the word brooding is commonly used in a much more figurative sense. Not all who brood are taking after a broody hen, but they do figuratively participate in pondering or ruminating on something for a long time, like a flock of females with their fertile eggs. A mother bird has the instinct to sit on her clutch of eggs when hormones are released. She sits on top of the eggs in her own space, and can hatch chicks for the rest of her life. In a factory farm, this might be indoors, but it could be in an outdoor shelter for free-range eggs. 

Many different languages also contain words meaning brooding. You may notice that some of these words look similar to the word brooding. These are called cognates, which are words and phrases that look, sound, and eman smiler things across languages. These cognates are often formed when two words share the same root or language of origin, like Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word brooding is provided by Word Sense

  •  Romanian: cloci‎
  •  Portuguese: ruminar‎
  •  Italian: covare‎, rimuginare‎, arrovellarsi‎
  •  Finnish: hautoa‎
  •  French: se morfondre‎, broyer du noir‎
  •  Dutch: broeden‎, piekeren‎
  •  Swedish: ruva‎ (intensively), älta‎ (moodily and obsessively)
  •  Hungarian: kotlik‎
  •  Friulian: clucî‎
  •  German: brüten‎
  •  Maori: whakapaeko‎, whakapuke‎, whakapupuke‎, whēnakonako‎, whēnako‎
  •  Greek: αναλογίζομαι‎
  •  Bulgarian: размислям се‎

How can the word brooding be used in a sentence?

The word brooding can be used in many different contexts to describe someone who is sad and angry, or someone who is ruminating on something. In this example, a mother and father talk about their teenage son. 

Dad: What is up with Tyler these days? He’s always so angry, stomping around the house. I asked him if he wanted to go out to dinner and it was like I kicked him out of the house.

Mom: Ah yes, the teenage brooding phase. I know it well. We’re in for a treat.

Here, the mom describes the brooding phase that many teens experience.

What is the origin of the word brooding?

According to Etymonline, the word brooding has been used as an adjective since the 1640s to mean hovering or persistently overhanging. This word has been used as a noun since 1400 to refer to the action of incubation. It has been used figuratively to describe weather since 1805 and to describe mental fixations since 1973. The word brooding comes from the word brood. 

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word brooding?

There are many different words that have the same meaning as the word brooding. These are called synonyms. Synonyms are a great tool to learn because they can help you avoid repeating yourself and they can also help you to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word brooding is provided by Thesaurus

  •  brainstorm
  •  fume
  •  chagrin
  •  torment
  •  sweat it out
  •  mull over
  •  chafe inwardly
  •  fuss
  •  sigh
  •  pout
  •  reflect
  •  lament
  •  gloom
  •  carp
  •  ponder
  •  contemplate
  •  meditate
  •  eat one’s heart out
  •  distress oneself
  •  deliberate
  •  revolve
  •  fret
  •  take on
  •  carry a heavy load
  •  daydream
  •  be in brown study
  •  anguish
  •  despond
  •  sweat over
  •  consider
  •  dwell upon
  •  upset oneself
  •  muse
  •  sulk
  •  bleed
  •  stew
  •  lose sleep over
  •  grieve
  •  weigh
  •  agonize
  •  sweat out
  •  stew about
  •  think about
  •  use one’s head
  •  get into a dither
  •  pother
  •  figure
  •  repine
  •  excogitate
  •  think
  •  languish
  •  speculate
  •  stew over
  •  affront
  •  mope
  •  worry
  •  think upon
  •  chafe
  •  dream
  •  turn over
  •  rack one’s brains
  •  ruminate
  •  bother
  •  cogitate
  •  chew over

There are also numerous different words that have the opposite meaning as the word brood. These opposite words are called antonyms. Antonyms are another quick and easy way to expand your knowledge of the English language. This list of antonyms for the word brooding is also provided by Thesaurus.

  •  brush off
  •  snub
  •  laugh off
  •  contemn
  •  slight
  •  pooh-pooh
  •  turn back on
  •  overlook
  •  let go
  •  disobey
  •  blink
  •  discount
  •  vilipend
  •  disregard
  •  wink at
  •  forget
  •  neglect
  •  overpass
  •  leave out of account
  •  brush away
  •  pass over
  •  ignore
  •  bury one’s head in sand
  •  take no notice
  •  look the other way
  •  pay no attention to
  •  live with
  •  omit
  •  shut eyes to
  •  disparage
  •  tune out
  •  disdain
  •  turn blind eye
  •  pay no heed to
  •  fail
  •  have no use for
  •  pay no mind
  •  blink at
  •  wink
  •  turn deaf ear
  •  cold-shoulder
  •  scorn
  •  brush aside
  •  turn a blind eye
  •  let pass
  •  miss
  •  let off easy
  •  be oblivious to
  •  reject
  •  turn a deaf ear
  •  evade
  •  let it go
  •  take no notice of
  •  avoid
  •  despise 

Overall, the word brooding is an adjective that describes someone who is sad and angsty. This is also the present tense form of the verb brood. This can be used in many different ways to describe someone who is ruminating or moping about something. 


  1. Brood: Meaning, Oriigin, Translation | Word Sense
  2. ROODING Synonyms: 39 Synonyms & Antonyms for BROODING | Thesaurus 
  3. DISREGARD Synonyms: 102 Synonyms & Antonyms for DISREGARD | Thesaurus 
  4. Brooding | Origin and Meaning of Brooding | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  5. Brooding | Definition of Brooding | Merriam-Webster BROODING | Cambridge English Dictionary