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90s Slang You Should Know


[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 somberness
Historical Examples
  • The handsomeness was marred by a somberness, a sternness of demeanor.

    Sudden Jim Clarence Budington Kelland
  • There was a suggestion of somberness in her eyes as she looked down at him.

    Spring Street James H. Richardson
  • This is reflected in the somberness of her stories and in the dread atmosphere of fate that hangs over her characters.

    Modern English Books of Power George Hamlin Fitch
  • Nature had begun the work of somberness in his Highland heart.

    Lad: A Dog Albert Payson Terhune
  • Yet in his eyes, which formerly had sparkled with the wit of youth, there was more depth and a hint of somberness.

  • Slowly the fire began to dwindle and the shadows to encroach with a dominion of somberness over the room.

    The Roof Tree Charles Neville Buck
  • He was really glad to see her; to be drawn away by it all from the somberness of his thoughts.

    Mistress Anne Temple Bailey
  • Study the writer's humor and show how it serves to relieve the somberness of the book.

    The Complete Club Book for Women Caroline French Benton
  • But when it was all over and the people filed out of the building, they seemed to leave some of their somberness there.

    Our Little Finnish Cousin Clara Vostrovsky Winlow
  • There was in them, and in the straight line of her black brows above them, a somberness and almost a menace.

    The Rescue Anne Douglas Sedgwick
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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