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, 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 for somber

Antonyms for somber Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for somberness

Historical Examples of somberness

  • 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.

  • Are we to come down into soberness and somberness to preserve these bodies of ours?

    Seed Thoughts for Singers

    Frank Herbert Tubbs

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