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[som-ber] /ˈsɒm bər/
gloomily dark; shadowy; dimly lighted:
a somber passageway.
dark and dull, as color, or as things in respect to color:
a somber dress.
gloomy, depressing, or dismal:
a somber mood.
extremely serious; grave:
a somber expression on his face.
Also, especially British, sombre.
Origin of somber
1750-60; < French sombre, Middle French, probably noun derivative of *sombrer to make shady < Vulgar Latin *subumbrāre, equivalent to Latin sub- sub- + umbrāre to cast a shadow, derivative of umbra shade
Related forms
somberly, adverb
somberness, noun
unsomber, adjective
unsomberly, adverb
unsomberness, noun
1. dusky, murky, sunless. 3. lugubrious, mournful, doleful, melancholy.
1. bright. 3. cheerful. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for somberly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He rose and went to the foot of the bed and stood there, regarding her somberly.

    The Combined Maze May Sinclair
  • "If it's safe for us to let people know where we are by then," Jan said somberly.

  • "That, taken with everything else, all but got me down," said he somberly.

  • They tell me Im living in a prison of self, invisible and ascetic and somberly just.

    I, Mary MacLane Mary MacLane
  • "All right," responded Cleve, somberly, and with a heavy tread he left the room.

    The Border Legion Zane Grey
  • "We'd better run for it at the first chance," he said, somberly.

    The Border Legion Zane Grey
  • Andrews watched him somberly for a moment then reached for the microphone.

    The Honored Prophet William E. Bentley
Word Origin and History for somberly



1760 "gloomy, shadowy" (earlier sombrous, c.1730), from French sombre "dark, gloomy," from Old French sombre (14c.), from an adjective from Late Latin subumbrare "to shadow," from sub "under" (see sub-) + umbra "shade, shadow," perhaps from a suffixed form of PIE *andho- "blind, dark" (see umbrage). Related: Somberly; somberness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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