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 In his own television appearances and interviews, Mr. Hassett has been somber in his predictions for how the virus will continue to affect the economy. Jim Tankersley, New York Times, "No Virus Deaths by Mid-May? White House Economists Say They Didn’t Forecast Early End to Fatalities," 6 May 2020 For all his determined brio, Johnson’s message to his lockdown-weary nation was somber, underscoring the hard choices that Britain faces as the economy languishes and the death toll from the virus soars above 21,000., "Boris Johnson, back on the job, urges caution in easing COVID-19 rules," 27 Apr. 2020 Though the film is somber, its ending has such profound beauty and hope. NBC News, "16 great LGBTQ movies to stream during self-isolation," 23 Mar. 2020 Rimmer said the mood in the neighborhood is somber. Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "In scenes across Milwaukee, rhythm of everyday life suddenly, shockingly altered," 18 Mar. 2020 The mood was somber Wednesday in Porterville, where two firefighters are believed to have died fighting a blaze at the library. Arlene Martinez, USA TODAY, "In California: Homelessness, a Trump fundraiser and a prison proposal shut down," 20 Feb. 2020 Nine-year-old Ibeth Santafé, three times a winner in past races, was somber after finishing third. Houston Chronicle, "AP Photos: Kids race llamas in Ecuador's highlands," 9 Feb. 2020 But despite the potential for being overwhelmingly somber, these tracks are comforting in their honesty: Sulli’s experiences are put into song, and swaths of people can feel spoken for. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The 25 Best K-pop Albums of 2019: Critics' Picks," 31 Dec. 2019 Only recently, Trump took a more somber tone after acknowledging that more than 200,000 Americans could be killed by the disease. Joseph Gerth, The Courier-Journal, "Gerth: Coronavirus has killed thousands. But Bevin's 'Chicken Little' tweet is still up," 4 Apr. 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

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Somber.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 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

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