adjective sol·emn \ ˈsä-ləm \
|Updated on: 16 Aug 2018

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
3 a : awe-inspiring : sublime
  • solemn beauty
b : marked by grave sedateness and earnest sobriety
  • a solemn gathering
c : somber, gloomy
  • a solemn gray building





Examples of solemn in a Sentence

  1. 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 MarxHarper'sSeptember 2006
  2. 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 GarlandHistory TodayFebruary 2004
  3. 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 ReeTimes Literary Supplement13 Aug. 2004
  4. 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 ConstableWashington Post20 Oct. 2001
  5. He spoke in a solemn and thoughtful manner.

  6. He wore a very solemn expression on his face.

  7. He recited the poem in a solemn voice.

  8. A solemn crowd gathered around the grave.

  9. We made a solemn promise to love each other forever.

Recent Examples of solemn from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of solemn

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

SOLEMN Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of solemn for English Language Learners

  • : very serious or formal in manner, behavior, or expression

  • : sad and serious

  • : done or made sincerely

SOLEMN Defined for Kids


adjective sol·emn \ ˈsä-ləm \

Definition of solemn for Students

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



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excessive admiration or flattery

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