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 But there’s been times Rexford can remember when his balloons were needed for a more somber occasion. Caroline Glenn,, "A balloon boutique, lamp shop and flag emporium: How do these Orlando landmarks stay in business?," 29 Nov. 2019 The call to this new family, the Perrys, would be no less strange, but its implications would be far more somber — a loved one of theirs was dead, and his death had come after he was taken off life support by strangers. Joe Sexton, ProPublica, "Journalism That Holds Power to Account," 3 Nov. 2019 The latest, and probably final, chapter in the X-Men superhero saga is a somber, even funereal affair. Ross Raihala, Twin Cities, "‘Downton Abbey’ hits the silver screen and Rambo returns this week at the movies," 16 Sep. 2019 While completely expected, news of Thompson’s deal helps offset Sunday’s somber Warriors news that Kevin Durant is leaving for Brooklyn and Andre Iguodala is headed for Memphis. Jon Becker, The Mercury News, "Klay Thompson uses DiCaprio to announce his new Warriors deal," 1 July 2019 The mood was somber, darkened by the downpour that drenched those who came to witness the second pope to pay his respects after St. John Paul II in 1981., "Pope demands that nuclear powers renounce atomic arsenals," 24 Nov. 2019 This is a somber day, but our UAW Constitution has provided the necessary tools to deal with these charge. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, "UAW moves to oust President Gary Jones, Director Vance Pearson," 20 Nov. 2019 The carnival-like atmosphere was a celebration of all things Mexican, in contrast to the somber Day of the Dead affairs many Mexican families have long hosted in the privacy of their homes or at cemeteries. Washington Post, "Day of the Dead parade hits Mexico City as holiday expands," 28 Oct. 2019 In a place that could easily be described as bleak and somber, Graham was greeted by smiles and positivity, the residents each holding tightly to their hopes for the future, as well as their dignity. Ineye Komonibo, Marie Claire, "Kat Graham Wants to Change the World," 27 Sep. 2019

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

20 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Somber.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 24 January 2020.

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on somber

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for somber

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with somber

Spanish Central: Translation of somber

Nglish: Translation of somber for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of somber for Arabic Speakers

Comments on somber

What made you want to look up somber? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a feeling of well-being or elation

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