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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for somberly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Janet had somberly watched him till he was out of sight, then had gone inside.

    In the Shadow of the Hills George C. Shedd
  • He rose and went to the foot of the bed and stood there, regarding her somberly.

    The Combined Maze May Sinclair
  • Withers rode off, with a parting word to Shefford, and finally Joe somberly mounted his bay and trotted down the valley.

    The Rainbow Trail Zane Grey
  • They tell me Im living in a prison of self, invisible and ascetic and somberly just.

    I, Mary MacLane Mary MacLane
  • It seemed such an absurd fact when she looked across the table at Zachary somberly munching his pasty.

    Carnival Compton Mackenzie
  • "It is time for us to sing these songs in the street," said Vyesovshchikov somberly.

    Mother Maksim Gorky
  • "Tom, you'll insist on going, I suppose," Mr. Swift said somberly.

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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