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[som-ber] /ˈsɒm bər/
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, sombre.
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 forms
somberly, adverb
somberness, noun
unsomber, adjective
unsomberly, adverb
unsomberness, noun
1. dusky, murky, sunless. 3. lugubrious, mournful, doleful, melancholy.
1. bright. 3. cheerful. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for somber
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Now, in his black suit, he was a somber figure; and in the blue eyes I read a fear suppressed.

  • I had them lighted, thinking that they would brighten up the somber room.

    The Flood Emile Zola
  • She was dressed in a thin black fabric, and her beautifully shaped hands gleamed unusually white against its somber folds.

    The Long Portage Harold Bindloss
  • There was a somber light in his eyes, and his lips were whitening.

    A Son of Hagar Sir Hall Caine
  • The shelves are filled with somber sets of the "Transactions" and "Proceedings" of several learned societies.

    Old Valentines Munson Aldrich Havens
Word Origin and History for somber

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
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