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 Included are several haunting paintings of Holocaust victims, derived in part from photographs, and a somber print made in response to the 2018 assault on Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. Washington Post, "In the galleries: Simulated stone and neon artworks reflect the transience of life," 30 Apr. 2021 The cast includes Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and several SEAL members, all of whom present somber commentary on the risky but successful assignment to take out the man behind the Sept. 11 attacks. Alicia Eler, Star Tribune, "10 best things our critics are watching this week," 29 Apr. 2021 Built in 1912, the mansion’s exterior originally featured a somber red brick facade. Howard Walker, Robb Report, "Home of the Week: This $17 Million Mansion in San Francisco Is Straight Out of Paris’s 6th Arrondissement," 27 Apr. 2021 But the singer doesn’t try to sound like Cooke on the tune, which is a somber cry for people to lift their voices set to acoustic guitar, church organ, and a slow-beating tambourine. Rolling Stone, "See Performances of Best Original Song Nominees at Oscars 2021," 26 Apr. 2021 The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, usually booming with basketball fans or concert attendees, housed a somber celebration for the life of the late rapper. Elise Brisco, USA TODAY, "'He will rest in peace': Nas, Eve, Swizz Beatz, more honor DMX at emotional memorial service," 25 Apr. 2021 The same goes for the motivation behind the creation of the beautiful, sometimes somber family videos seen throughout the film. Victoria Uwumarogie, Essence, "Remington Richardson Of Oscar-Nominated "Time" On Having Success Despite His Circumstances And What His Parents Taught Him About Love," 25 Apr. 2021 When the news breaks, the lights will flash, alerting DJs to switch the music to their prepared somber music playlists. Alex Warner, Marie Claire, "Exactly What Will Happen When Queen Elizabeth II Dies," 23 Apr. 2021 When Sanjay Garg launched Raw Mango in 2008, the handloom sector in India largely produced somber garments for politicians on the campaign trail. Sneha Mehta, Vogue, "Dressing for a Hotter Planet: In India, Designers Honor the Natural Sustainability of Artisan Crafts," 22 Apr. 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

2 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Somber.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 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

Comments on somber

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