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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 somberness
Historical Examples
  • There was a suggestion of somberness in her eyes as she looked down at him.

    Spring Street James H. Richardson
  • He was really glad to see her; to be drawn away by it all from the somberness of his thoughts.

    Mistress Anne Temple Bailey
  • The handsomeness was marred by a somberness, a sternness of demeanor.

    Sudden Jim Clarence Budington Kelland
  • There was a gloom, a somberness, a hardness about him that had not been noticeable the day before.

    The Border Legion Zane Grey
  • Are we to come down into soberness and somberness to preserve these bodies of ours?

    Seed Thoughts for Singers Frank Herbert Tubbs
  • The somberness of Lincoln's childhood was brightened by the memory of his mother.

    Lincoln, the Politician T. Aaron Levy
  • She loved gayety and brightness, and her whole life was clothed with somberness.

    Throckmorton Molly Elliot Seawell
  • Nature had begun the work of somberness in his Highland heart.

    Lad: A Dog Albert Payson Terhune
  • I think that our lives have become tinged with somberness and apprehension.

    Peter Ruff and the Double Four E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • It was as if the somberness of those wind-swept woods had crept into his cabin.

    Burned Bridges

    Bertrand W. Sinclair
Word Origin and History for somberness



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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