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  1. grave, sober, or mirthless, as a person, the face, speech, tone, or mood: solemn remarks.
  2. gravely or somberly impressive; causing serious thoughts or a grave mood: solemn music.
  3. serious or earnest: solemn assurances.
  4. characterized by dignified or serious formality, as proceedings; of a formal or ceremonious character: a solemn occasion.
  5. made in due legal or other express form, as a declaration or agreement: a solemn oath.
  6. marked or observed with religious rites; having a religious character: a solemn holy day.
  7. uttered, prescribed, or made according to religious forms: a solemn ban on sacrifice.

Origin of solemn

1275–1325; Middle English solem(p)ne (< Old French) < Late Latin sōlennis, sōlempnis, Latin sōlemnis, variant of sollemnis consecrated, holy, derivative of sollus whole
Related formssol·emn·ly, adverbsol·emn·ness, nouno·ver·sol·emn, adjectiveo·ver·sol·emn·ly, adverbo·ver·sol·emn·ness, nounsem·i·sol·emn, adjectivesem·i·sol·emn·ly, adverbsem·i·sol·emn·ness, nounsu·per·sol·emn, adjectivesu·per·sol·emn·ly, adverbsu·per·sol·emn·ness, nounun·sol·emn, adjectiveun·sol·emn·ly, adverbun·sol·emn·ness, noun

Synonyms for solemn

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1. unsmiling, serious. See grave2. 2. august, imposing, stately. 4. ritual, ceremonial. 6. devotional, sacred.

Antonyms for solemn Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for solemn

Contemporary Examples of solemn

Historical Examples of solemn

British Dictionary definitions for solemn


  1. characterized or marked by seriousness or sinceritya solemn vow
  2. characterized by pomp, ceremony, or formality
  3. serious, glum, or pompous
  4. inspiring awea solemn occasion
  5. performed with religious ceremony
  6. gloomy or sombresolemn colours
Derived Formssolemnly, adverbsolemnness or solemness, noun

Word Origin for solemn

C14: from Old French solempne, from Latin sōllemnis appointed, perhaps from sollus whole
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 solemn

mid-14c., "performed with due religious ceremony or reverence, sacred, devoted to religious observances," also, of a vow, etc., "made under religious sanction, binding," from Old French solempne (12c., Modern French solennel) and directly from Latin sollemnis "annual, established, religiously fixed, formal, ceremonial, traditional," perhaps related to sollus "whole" (see safe (adj.)).

"The explanation that Latin sollemnis was formed from sollus whole + annus year is not considered valid" [Barnhart], but some assimilation via folk-etymology is possible. In Middle English also "famous, important; imposing, grand," hence Chaucer's friar, a ful solempne man. Meaning "marked by seriousness or earnestness" is from late 14c.; sense of "fitted to inspire devout reflection" is from c.1400. Related: Solemnly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper