sol·​emn | \ ˈsä-ləm How to pronounce solemn (audio) \

Definition of solemn

1 : marked by the invocation of a religious sanction a solemn oath
2 : marked by the observance of established form or ceremony specifically : celebrated with full liturgical ceremony
3a : awe-inspiring : sublime solemn beauty
b : marked by grave sedateness and earnest sobriety a solemn gathering
c : somber, gloomy a solemn gray building

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Other Words from solemn

solemnly adverb
solemnness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for solemn

serious, grave, solemn, sedate, staid, sober, earnest mean not light or frivolous. serious implies a concern for what really matters. a serious play about social injustice grave implies both seriousness and dignity in expression or attitude. read the proclamation in a grave voice solemn suggests an impressive gravity utterly free from levity. a sad and solemn occasion sedate implies a composed and decorous seriousness. remained sedate amid the commotion staid suggests a settled, accustomed sedateness and prim self-restraint. a quiet and staid community sober stresses seriousness of purpose and absence of levity or frivolity. a sober look at the state of our schools earnest suggests sincerity or often zealousness of purpose. an earnest reformer

Examples of solemn in a Sentence

The women running the office where I was given immunizations and completed more paperwork said they had a young friend back in the District who would love my British accent. They were going to call her this very instant, they teased, and then I'd have a companion for the evening. They also talked in more solemn tones about all the brave men and women who came through the base and then shipped off to Iraq. — Willem Marx, Harper's, September 2006 Caesar was slaughtered in a sanctified space, his body was sacrosanct since he held the position of supreme pontiff, and his assassins had recently taken a solemn oath to protect his life with their own. Yet none of this seems to have figured prominently in the charges that were laid against his killers. — Robert Garland, History Today, February 2004 The testimony may well have had serious judicial consequences, even lethal ones, but its style is so glum and flat-footed that it gives an impression not of solemn majesty but of grotesque comedy … — Jonathan Ree, Times Literary Supplement, 13 Aug. 2004 To the vast majority of people in this Muslim nation of 145 million, Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance, not war and hatred. It requires that women dress modestly, but not make themselves invisible. Its mosques are solemn and silent, but its shrines are relaxed and colorful. Its liturgy says Islam should be spread by persuasion, not by force … — Pamela Constable, Washington Post, 20 Oct. 2001 He spoke in a solemn and thoughtful manner. He wore a very solemn expression on his face. He recited the poem in a solemn voice. A solemn crowd gathered around the grave. We made a solemn promise to love each other forever.
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Recent Examples on the Web His father, King Westbrook, shared a solemn photo of his son performing the Wakanda Salute alongside Marvel action figures at an impromptu memorial for Boseman's Black Panther. Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY, "Young fan honors 'Black Panther' star Chadwick Boseman with an 'Endgame'-inspired memorial," 1 Sep. 2020 Today, many Native Americans and others mark Thanksgiving as a solemn day of remembrance instead of celebration. Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping, "The True, Dark History Behind Thanksgiving," 31 Aug. 2020 And through a long, solemn day, numerous processions filled with cars and SUVs and led by hearses from area funeral homes, drove through Belle Isle. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit's Belle Isle becomes a place to mourn, celebrate the lives lost to COVID-19," 31 Aug. 2020 Freund also made solemn public statements to reporters waiting night and day outside his home. Rosemary Sobol,, "Plea deal in the works for AJ Freund’s father, who is accused of murder in the death of the 5-year-old Crystal Lake boy," 28 Aug. 2020 China firmly opposes this and has lodged solemn representations with the United States. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "China Complains a U-2 Spy Plane Infiltrated Its No-Fly Zone," 26 Aug. 2020 What about our endless games of hide-and-seek, Go Fish and Candyland, our giddy visits to fire houses, our solemn contemplation of construction sites? Ellen Pall, The New York Review of Books, "To Recover Mother," 25 Aug. 2020 While many first-night speakers brought a solemn approach, Guilfoyle rocked the stage with her trademark enthusiasm for Trump and condemnation for the Democratic ticket. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "Kimberly Guilfoyle: Democrats ‘blame America first'," 24 Aug. 2020 Cook was ordained May 24, 1986, by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, and celebrated his first solemn Mass two days later at St. Walter Parish in Chicago, according to a news release form the archdiocese. Daily Southtown,, "Father Joseph T. Cook, served parishes in Chicago Heights, South Holland and Oak Lawn," 22 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'solemn.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of solemn

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for solemn

Middle English solempne, from Anglo-French, from Latin sollemnis regularly appointed, solemn

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Time Traveler for solemn

Time Traveler

The first known use of solemn was in the 14th century

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Statistics for solemn

Last Updated

8 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Solemn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for solemn


How to pronounce solemn (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of solemn

: very serious or formal in manner, behavior, or expression
: sad and serious
: done or made sincerely


sol·​emn | \ ˈsä-ləm How to pronounce solemn (audio) \

Kids Definition of solemn

1 : very serious or formal in manner, behavior, or expression a solemn procession a solemn face
2 : done or made seriously and thoughtfully a solemn promise

Other Words from solemn

solemnly adverb

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Comments on solemn

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