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See more synonyms for somber on Thesaurus.com
  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.
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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

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Antonyms for somber

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for sombre

flat, uninspired, boring, muted, ho-hum, forlorn, sad, anguished, jet, slate, onyx, coal, sable, pitch, brunet, ebony, clouded, charcoal, sloe, obsidian

Examples from the Web for sombre

Historical Examples of sombre

  • 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


US somber

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

Word Origin for sombre

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


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

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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper