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

Queen & Slim Lena Waithe is the writer behind this gorgeous, somber-looking film about a black couple who go on the run after an aggressive police encounter ends with one of them shooting and killing a cop in defense. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, "New trailers: Hobbs & Shaw, Charlie’s Angels, and more," 29 June 2019 The cordon can be a place for joyful reunions, but on three days each week a more somber drama unfolds: Here, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, about 130 deported Mexican citizens arrive home. Oscar Lopez / Mexico City, Time, "These Dreamers Were Deported to Mexico. Now, They're Helping Others Start Again," 9 Mar. 2018 The Duchess of Cambridge wore a black coat with a white color and red details for the somber occasion. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "Kate Middleton Wore a Somber Black Coat and Poppy Pin to Remembrance Sunday Service," 11 Nov. 2018 His responsibilities include the most somber occasions: meeting Marines killed in action at Dover Air Force Base and presiding at funerals at Arlington. Steve Hendrix, Washington Post, "Precision, patriotism and a new stage for a beloved Marine tradition," 11 June 2018 The anniversary falls during a somber week for Houston. Rebecca Hennes, Houston Chronicle, "June 5 marks the first day of Tropical Storm Allison's 2-week devastation. Here's a look back," 5 June 2019 Three days after the shooting, a somber Monday played out at the city’s sprawling municipal complex, where employees returned to work for the first time since the rampage unfolded in the three-story, brick Building 2. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Virginia Beach releases letter sent before shooting rampage," 3 June 2019 Spring and summer bring much needed respite from the cold, somber days of winter. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Fend Off Bugs This Summer With Amazon's Thermacell Sale," 17 Apr. 2019 In fact, the season 15 premiere kicked off on an incredibly somber note as the show honored three fisherman who lost their lives. Blair Donovan, Country Living, "'Deadliest Catch' Season 15 Premiere Pays Tribute to Fishermen Who Lost Their Lives," 14 Apr. 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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Statistics for somber

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

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

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