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 Details have been mostly private, but it's expected to have a more somber and thankful tone amid the coronavirus pandemic, and fans will not be in attendance. USA TODAY, 23 July 2021 This year, though, many First Nations communities are calling for a halt to celebrations of the holiday, with some planning a more somber observance instead. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, 30 June 2021 Some people would announce a big public health thing at a more somber locale, like the Governor’s Mansion, or a hospital. Bethy Squires, Vulture, 16 June 2021 On a more somber note, a Chicago police officer was arrested on federal charges tied to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the Tribune’s Jason Meisner reports. Lisa Donovan,, 11 June 2021 The next Ketchikan blackout practice on April 18, 1941, while German bombers still flew over the United Kingdom, was a more somber affair. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, 1 Feb. 2021 The Aquarian energy will become more somber on 23rd January, Powell says, when the Sun meets with Saturn, the Planet of Structure and Responsibility. Elizabeth Gulino,, 18 Jan. 2021 Though through somber resilience, Springsteen also finds ways to celebrate. New York Times, 27 June 2021 Officials delivered a somber update on the search-and-rescue efforts as night descended Friday: No new survivors have been discovered., 26 June 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.

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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

25 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Somber.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jul. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on somber

Nglish: Translation of somber for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of somber for Arabic Speakers


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