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

Essential Meaning of somber

1 : very sad and serious Her death put us in a somber mood. The movie is a somber portrait of life on the streets.
2 : having a dull or dark color He wore a somber suit.

Full 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

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The governor's video speech last year struck a somber but defensive tone for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that has now killed over 24,700 Arizonans, including more in 2021 than 2020. The Arizona Republic, 10 Jan. 2022 The hearing on July 27, the first of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, was a somber and emotional affair. New York Times, 4 Jan. 2022 But that’s just the first third or so of this moving and somber look at under-the-radar espionage. Scott Mendelson, Forbes, 29 Dec. 2021 The crowd, distanced out due to COVID-19 protocols, was quiet and somber. David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, 15 Dec. 2021 Last week, Louis Vuitton’s first ever U.S. fashion show turned into a somber yet whimsical tribute to Abloh days after his death. Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY, 7 Dec. 2021 Far from being somber or harrowing, these gatherings are joyous affairs. Melanie Canales, Wired, 29 Nov. 2021 Kyle Whittingham led a stoic and somber march across campus on Wednesday night. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, 30 Sep. 2021 The tone of Friday’s House debate on the measure was at turns somber and emotional. Felicia Sonmez And Ann E. Marimow, Anchorage Daily News, 24 Sep. 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of somber

1760, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for somber

French sombre

Learn More About somber

Dictionary Entries Near somber




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for somber

Last Updated

14 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Somber.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for somber


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

More from Merriam-Webster on somber

Nglish: Translation of somber for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of somber for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!