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[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 solemnly
  • Never again, it was solemnly proclaimed, should the markets rely on the word of the agencies.
  • Laser cells, they say solemnly, could have important uses in medicine.
  • In the space of three minutes, nine world leaders solemnly put their seal to the agreement.
  • She lifted up her eyes, and solemnly declared that she would devote herself to this task, fervently and faithfully.
  • On the seventeenth day there took place a public ceremony through which he and his weapons were solemnly purified.
  • Dressed in dark uniforms, they solemnly climb a long, dim staircase.
  • Now it was her turn to nod, and this she did solemnly.
  • The picture is awfully, solemnly silly, but it's enjoyable and even rather stirring.
  • It looms solemnly over the shady corner of a city park, an incongruous emblem of pain amid a happy clamor of picnicking families.
British Dictionary definitions for solemnly


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 solemnly



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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