sol·​emn ˈsä-ləm How to pronounce solemn (audio)
: marked by the invocation of a religious sanction
a solemn oath
: marked by the observance of established form or ceremony
specifically : celebrated with full liturgical ceremony
: awe-inspiring : sublime
solemn beauty
: marked by grave sedateness and earnest sobriety
a solemn gathering
: somber, gloomy
a solemn gray building
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

Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Charles will be crowned in a solemn religious ceremony conducted by Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, the palace said in a statement. Danica Kirka, Chicago Tribune, 11 Oct. 2022 Haaland, the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency, made the announcement during a solemn ceremony at the Sand Creek Massacre National Historical Site about 170 miles southeast of Denver to honor the dead, survivors, and their descendants. James Anderson,, 5 Oct. 2022 Amid solemn ceremony, the coffin was then taken to lie in state in the throne room at Holyroodhouse Palace. Alicia Victoria Lozano, NBC News, 11 Sep. 2022 America’s most solemn civic ceremony, the presidential inauguration, centers around the oath of office. Adam J. White, WSJ, 2 Sep. 2022 On the topic of Boseman’s death, Gurira is expectedly solemn. Michael Cuby, SELF, 27 Oct. 2022 The funeral for radio broadcaster Allán González was solemn, as the shock of the unexpected death weighed heavily on those in attendance. USA Today, 24 Sep. 2022 The funeral for radio broadcaster Allán González was solemn, as the shock of the unexpected death weighed heavily on those in attendance., 22 Sep. 2022 Though their purpose was solemn, the queuers were mostly jolly, chatting with neighbors about their memories and impressions of the monarch. The New Yorker, 20 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near solemn

Cite this Entry

“Solemn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



sol·​emn ˈsäl-əm How to pronounce solemn (audio)
: being serious and dignified in appearance or behavior

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