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 Numerous exhortations are proffered as evidence to the court in an effort to prove to today’s young listeners that this is all rather heavy stuff and showcases a solemn life of extraordinary burdens. Lance Eliot, Forbes, "Tall Tales By Your Grandparents About Walking Five Miles To School Will Instead Be About Using Self-Driving Cars For Your Kid’s Generation," 8 May 2021 And with that solemn service, the Leaths were wrapped into a family of survivors, others who lost fellow servants. Elizabeth Depompei, The Indianapolis Star, "'Grief with grace': Hope, faith mark service for fallen Marion County police officers," 6 May 2021 The chief of the country’s executive branch and a progressive icon in the nation’s legislative branch should have kept their thoughts to themselves while a segment of the judicial branch carried out its solemn responsibility. Arkansas Online, "Ill-timed statements," 25 Apr. 2021 Thousands of people gathered in a solemn mood in N'Djamena's main Place de la Nation to pay their respects to him. Reuters, CNN, "Thousands mourn Chad's president, rebels say their command hit by airstrike," 23 Apr. 2021 Longtime climate policy experts, no strangers to climate summits with solemn pledges, watched some speeches with skepticism. Ellen Knickmeyer, Star Tribune, "Jobs are make-or-break argument for Biden in climate plan," 22 Apr. 2021 After the stream of solemn pledges on fighting climate change, the talk turned to money. Ellen Knickmeyer And Aamer Madhani, Chron, "World leaders pledge climate cooperation despite other rifts," 22 Apr. 2021 The city’s celebration is occurring over Memorial Day weekend, and the parade will include a special tribute to freedom and the tenants of the solemn holiday. al, "‘There is going to be a parade’: Mobile poised for first post-COVID Mardi Gras-like parade on Gulf Coast," 20 Apr. 2021 The solemn crowd arrayed on the steps of Grace Baptist Church applauded the jury’s conviction of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who killed Floyd, and decried the police tactics that led to the 47-year old’s killing last year. Chase Difeliciantonio, San Francisco Chronicle, "Vigil for George Floyd, others killed by police draws crowd at San Jose church," 20 Apr. 2021

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

12 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Solemn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for solemn



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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