Funerals are often somber affairs, and you might have a somber expression on your face after your teacher hands back an exam you failed. Somber is used to describe situations, facial expressions, or moods that are dark, gloomy, or depressing.

Something that is somber is often thought of as “in shadow,” as in “the shadow of grief,” or “the shadow of a bad mood.” This is not just a coincidence. Somber comes from French sombre, derived from the Latin sub umbrā, “under a shadow.”

Definitions of somber
  1. adjective

    grave or even gloomy in character

    “a suit of
    somber black”
    somber mood”
    melancholy, sombre

    cheerless, depressing, uncheerful

    causing sad feelings of gloom and inadequacy
  2. adjective

    lacking brightness or color; dull

    “children in
    somber brown clothes”
    drab, sober, sombre

    colorless, colourless

    weak in color; not colorful

Word Family