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 And while those festivities make for joyful celebrations, the holiday’s history is rooted in much more solemn traditions. Alesandra Dubin, Good Housekeeping, "6 Interesting Facts About Memorial Day You May Not Know," 6 May 2020 On Good Friday, Christianity’s most solemn day, lawyers for religious freedom are expanding their war on governors and mayors who have ordered an Easter church lockdown and ban on drive-in services due to the coronavirus. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "God’s flock wage war to end national Easter lockout," 10 Apr. 2020 Perhaps the best time of the year to experience Iranians' legendary hospitality is Ashura, a solemn day in December for Shia Muslims that commemorates the martyrdom of the prophet's grandson at the battle of Karbala. Anissa Helou, Saveur, "Iran: The Land of Bread and Spice," 19 Mar. 2012 Walmart is running ads in which its CEO expresses solemn appreciation for the company’s store employees while those employees work in dangerous conditions and receive meager sick leave. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, "The Delicate Art of Disastertising," 23 Apr. 2020 Fish swim past, solemn as ghosts, and the child smiles sadly, wondering, perhaps, how bees will pollinate underwater. Campbell Mcgrath, The New Yorker, "At the Ruins of Yankee Stadium," 20 Apr. 2020 Imagine the solemn tones of his Dodger Stadium introduction. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Military hero deserves a moment, even if Dodgers can’t give it to him," 15 Apr. 2020 Choreographed by Hope Boykin, this beautifully layered work follows a solemn journey for acceptance. Melissa Young, Dallas News, "Art and the City: During the coronavirus pandemic, local dancers practice ‘the art of recovery’," 15 Apr. 2020 Christians throughout the world marked a solemn Easter amid the coronavirus pandemic. CBS News, "Coronavirus updates: Christians mark solemn Easter as worldwide cases approach 2 million," 13 Apr. 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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Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Solemn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 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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More from Merriam-Webster on solemn

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for solemn

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with solemn

Spanish Central: Translation of solemn

Nglish: Translation of solemn for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of solemn for Arabic Speakers

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