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somber

[som-ber]
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adjective
  1. gloomily dark; shadowy; dimly lighted: a somber passageway.
  2. dark and dull, as color, or as things in respect to color: a somber dress.
  3. gloomy, depressing, or dismal: a somber mood.
  4. extremely serious; grave: a somber expression on his face.
Also especially British, som·bre.

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 formssom·ber·ly, adverbsom·ber·ness, nounun·som·ber, adjectiveun·som·ber·ly, adverbun·som·ber·ness, noun

Synonyms

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1. dusky, murky, sunless. 3. lugubrious, mournful, doleful, melancholy.

Antonyms

1. bright. 3. cheerful.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sombre

Historical Examples

  • At this he looked with sombre intelligence and set it carefully aside.

    The Bacillus of Beauty

    Harriet Stark

  • "They soon lose their perfume," replied the sombre Old Year.

  • The lowered physiognomy of Mr Verloc expressed a sombre and weary annoyance.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • His voice was sombre, because he had a correct sentiment of the situation.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • He entered in the clatter of the shop bell with an air of sombre and vexed exhaustion.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad


British Dictionary definitions for sombre

sombre

US somber

adjective
  1. dismal; melancholya sombre mood
  2. dim, gloomy, or shadowy
  3. (of colour, clothes, etc) sober, dull, or dark
Derived Formssombrely or US somberly, adverbsombreness or US somberness, nounsombrous (ˈsɒmbrəs), adjective

Word Origin

C18: from French, from Vulgar Latin subumbrāre (unattested) to shade, from Latin sub beneath + umbra shade
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for sombre

adj.

chiefly British English spelling of somber (q.v.); for spelling, see -re.

somber

adj.

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