som·​ber | \ ˈsäm-bər How to pronounce somber (audio) \
variants: or sombre

Definition of somber

1 : so shaded as to be dark and gloomy
2a : of a serious mien : grave somber dignitaries
b : of a dismal or depressing character : melancholy
c : conveying gloomy suggestions or ideas
3 : of a dull or heavy cast or shade : dark colored

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Other Words from somber

somberly adverb
somberness noun

Examples of somber in a Sentence

Looking out at his audience, a somber mass of monks, Gregory gave Mary a new identity that would shape her image for fourteen hundred years. — Jonathan Darman, Newsweek, 29 May 2006 This year marks a somber anniversary—it was 150 years ago that humans wiped out the last survivors of this species. A relative of the razorbills and puffins, and about the size of a small goose, the great auk was black-bodied with a white underbelly, and walked erect, like a penguin. — Bill Montevecchi, Natural History, August 1994 The purple darkness was filled with men who lectured and jabbered. Sometimes he could see them gesticulating against the blue and somber sky. — Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage, 1895 Her death put us in a somber mood. The movie is a somber portrait of life on the streets. He wore a somber suit.
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Recent Examples on the Web The mood was a lot more somber this time as the Pelicans hosted the Boston Celtics. Rod Walker,, "Walker: A look back at the unforgettable New Orleans sports moments in a year we'd like to forget," 30 Dec. 2020 The often jovial affair that welcomes children onto the House floor and families into the gallery will be more somber: Only the new incoming House members will be allowed a guest, and they are allowed one ticket. Natalie Andrews, WSJ, "New House Will Start With Narrow Margins and Big To-Do List," 26 Dec. 2020 Their mood was somber, for statism had permeated the governments of Western Europe while communism ruled in Eastern Europe with a little help from the Soviet Army. Lee Edwards, National Review, "Before NR: Wandering in the Wilderness," 3 Dec. 2020 The scene was more somber in some battleground states where ballots were still being counted Saturday. David Guttenfelder, National Geographic, "The election is over. See photos of America’s divided reaction," 7 Nov. 2020 Tagovailoa, the Dolphins' top pick two starts into his NFL career, was quite introspective and somber Wednesday during his weekly Zoom press conference. Safid Deen,, "Dolphins’ Tua on giving Brian Flores game ball: It was ‘thank you for taking a shot on me’," 11 Nov. 2020 Concession speeches, which have closed the door on presidential campaigns for decades now, have ranged from funny to sincere and somber to optimistic. Jay Cannon, USA TODAY, "Bob Dole was funny, John McCain was sincere: Here's how presidential candidates have conceded over the years," 10 Nov. 2020 Around the nation, Trump supporters were in turns defiant and somber, realizing that even Fox News had called the election for Biden and was not running with the baseless fraud allegations. Los Angeles Times, "Dance parties and protests as Americans react to Biden’s win," 7 Nov. 2020 For obvious reasons, American Murder: The Family Next Door will be a much more somber and serious viewing experience. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Netflix Is Releasing a Doc About the Watts Family Murders—And the Trailer Is Chilling," 16 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'somber.' 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 somber

1760, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for somber

French sombre

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Time Traveler for somber

Time Traveler

The first known use of somber was in 1760

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Statistics for somber

Last Updated

14 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Somber.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for somber


How to pronounce somber (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of somber

: very sad and serious
: having a dull or dark color


variants: or sombre \ ˈsäm-​bər \

Kids Definition of somber

1 : very sad or serious a somber mood somber news
2 : being dark and gloomy : dull somber colors

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