som·​ber | \ˈsäm-bər \
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 body language between the two leaders was more somber than in previous meetings, when Messrs. Trump and Macron engaged in backslapping and air kisses. Stacy Meichtry, WSJ, "Trump, Macron Seek to Ease Tensions Over Security," 10 Nov. 2018 The National Puerto Rican Parade in New York turned into its usual boisterous celebration Sunday, but many participants also saw it as an occasion to express their more somber concerns over the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. Rebecca Gibian, The Seattle Times, "Puerto Rican Day Parade displays post-hurricane pride," 10 June 2018 What’s causing the somber mood is something that happened post-date. Mariah Smith, The Cut, "This Episode of Terrace House Ends on a Cliff-hanger," 17 May 2018 The clips ranged from somber moments like when two brothers working at a grocery store have to throw away expired food to humorous scenes like when the brothers are trying to memorize all of the kinds of cereal. Kate Morrissey,, "Immigrants adjust to life in U.S. with determination and humor," 15 Apr. 2018 On a more somber note, a man who committed two murders while in the grips of withdrawal has one request for his last meal: a slice of his mother’s apple pie. Sarah Bahr, Indianapolis Star, "Steve Martin musical, Edgar Allen Poe highlight new Phoenix Theatre season," 9 July 2018 Much of the work for the next several years is somber, under a shadow. New York Times, "Growing, Faltering, Changing, Growing: Lessons From Kay WalkingStick," 7 June 2018 On a more somber note, perhaps, Morgan’s son and other bank executives later claimed that Untermyer’s inquisition led to his father’s death just a few months later in March 1913. Daniel Fernandez, Smithsonian, "Before Zuckerberg, These Six Corporate Titans Testified Before Congress," 10 Apr. 2018 The Shorewood march took on a somber tone — there were no chants or slogans shouted over a bullhorn — as demonstrators sought to convey the seriousness of their concerns. Rick Barrett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Immigrant-rights marchers rally in Wisconsin and the nation," 30 June 2018

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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Statistics for somber

Last Updated

24 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for somber

The first known use of somber was in 1760

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More Definitions for somber



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with somber

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for somber

Spanish Central: Translation of somber

Nglish: Translation of somber for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of somber for Arabic Speakers

Comments on somber

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to enclose within walls

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