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

Unlike later iterations of this premise (The Hunger Games, for example), Battle Royale isn’t especially somber. Noel Murray, The Verge, "The First Purge’s release makes this a good weekend to watch Battle Royale on Netflix," 6 July 2018 Be Joyful Respecting a place’s cultural heritage doesn’t mean being somber all the time. Krista Langlois, Outside Online, "Sacred Native American Sites Are Not Your Playgrounds," 5 July 2018 Villarreal on Friday at first was somber during direct questioning by his attorney, Alex Scharff, who had the defendant tell the jury how Estrada went from being his drug supplier to friend and then boyfriend for two to three years. Elizabeth Zavala, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio man accused of stabbing boyfriend sobs after grisly photos shown," 22 June 2018 After hearing the news that Robin Williams died, a friend of Koko's, the highly intelligent gorilla was somber all day. Lilly Price, USA TODAY, "Koko, the gorilla famous for knowing sign language, dies in her sleep," 21 June 2018 When short outer jackets, or haori, were decorated with such jingoistic imagery, the designs generally were used as the bright lining in an otherwise somber coat. Charles Desmarais, San Francisco Chronicle, "Dressed to kill: War propaganda kimonos on view at the de Young," 11 May 2018 At Archbishop Wood High School, where the victims graduated in 2008, the mood was somber Thursday. Vinny Vella,, "Friends mourn young couple slain in Bucks home," 3 May 2018 The young violinist gained game after playing somber renditions of Venezuela’s national anthem during the 2017 protests. Washington Post, "The face of bloody protests in Venezuela moves on in NY," 5 Apr. 2018 Bailey said the mood in the postgame locker room was somber. Elliott Lapin, Houston Chronicle, "Hargrave Falcons' season comes to an end in boys basketball playoffs," 19 Feb. 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

1 Sep 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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Comments on somber

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