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 On the otherwise somber occasion, an athlete from Kosovo brought the country a reason for joy. Star Tribune, 26 July 2021 The discovery comes on the eve of Canada’s national day and is likely to add to a somber mood across the country as more evidence emerges of Canada’s history of mistreating indigenous peoples. Paul Vieira, WSJ, 30 June 2021 The somber mood was accompanied by a fierce public debate and accusations over the behavior of key public officials as well as Israel's ultra-Orthodox communities, from which most of the dead and wounded come. Andrew Carey And Amir Tal, CNN, 2 May 2021 Veterans Day goes virtual: Veterans Day celebrations yielded to somber virtual gatherings Wednesday, with many veterans homes barring visitors to protect residents from the surging coronavirus that has killed thousands of veterans. Chronicle Staff,, 22 Nov. 2020 That becomes especially clear with The Forever Purge, the most confrontational and nihilistic of the films as well as the most somber and contemplative. Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, 1 July 2021 The church was quiet and somber as early-morning Mass was held amid the noise of the rescue outside its windows. Washington Post, 27 June 2021 This stark and somber site, maintained by the National Park Service, has a striking feature, the Tower of Voices., 21 June 2021 In between, the Juneteenth seminar Ryan was leading — like other events marking the historic day in the Baltimore area — seemed to veer between uplifting and somber. Jeff Barker,, 19 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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Last Updated

23 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Somber.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 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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