9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[sol-uh m] /ˈsɒl əm/
grave, sober, or mirthless, as a person, the face, speech, tone, or mood:
solemn remarks.
gravely or somberly impressive; causing serious thoughts or a grave mood:
solemn music.
serious or earnest:
solemn assurances.
characterized by dignified or serious formality, as proceedings; of a formal or ceremonious character:
a solemn occasion.
made in due legal or other express form, as a declaration or agreement:
a solemn oath.
marked or observed with religious rites; having a religious character:
a solemn holy day.
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 forms
solemnly, adverb
solemnness, noun
oversolemn, adjective
oversolemnly, adverb
oversolemnness, noun
semisolemn, adjective
semisolemnly, adverb
semisolemnness, noun
supersolemn, adjective
supersolemnly, adverb
supersolemnness, noun
unsolemn, adjective
unsolemnly, adverb
unsolemnness, noun
1. unsmiling, serious. See grave2 . 2. august, imposing, stately. 4. ritual, ceremonial. 6. devotional, sacred.
1. humorous. 2. trivial. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for solemn
  • His solemn expression accompanies a quiet wit and a sardonic sense of humor.
  • She spoke in hushed, giddy laughter, somehow as perfectly solemn as it was light.
  • At the same time, a welcoming remark should be serious, lest you suggest that the occasion is not a solemn one.
  • Though the trailer is said to capture the game's solemn tone and setting, it is not the same thing.
  • He rendered the scene in a palette of solemn gray, brown and ocher, with raging seas and menacing skies dominating the picture.
  • No solemn, somber affair for these kids, a pilgrimage is a big party.
  • For much of the night, the mood is solemn, even anguished.
  • The pianist bows, his pageboy hairdo flopping about his solemn face.
  • Many of the illustrations are cartoonish without being playful, and the final section on time-travel paradoxes is too solemn.
  • While all the church bells made a solemn din-A fire-alarm to those who lived in sin.
British Dictionary definitions for solemn


characterized or marked by seriousness or sincerity: a solemn vow
characterized by pomp, ceremony, or formality
serious, glum, or pompous
inspiring awe: a solemn occasion
performed with religious ceremony
gloomy or sombre: solemn colours
Derived Forms
solemnly, adverb
solemnness, solemness, noun
Word Origin
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
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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
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