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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Somber \Som"ber\, Sombre \Som"bre\(?; 277), a. [F. sombre; cf. Sp. sombra, shade, prob. from LL. subumbrare to put in the shade; L. sub under + umbra shade. See Umbrage.]

  1. Dull; dusky; somewhat dark; gloomy; as, a somber forest; a somber house.

  2. Melancholy; sad; grave; depressing; as, a somber person; somber reflections.

    The dinner was silent and somber; happily it was also short.


Somber \Som"ber\, Sombre \Som"bre\, v. t. To make somber, or dark; to make shady. [R.]


Somber \Som"ber\, Sombre \Som"bre\, n. Gloom; obscurity; duskiness; somberness. [Obs.]

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

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.

  1. dark or dreary in character; joyless, and grim. v

  2. (alternative form of sombre English)

  1. adj. grave or even gloomy in character; "solemn and mournful music"; "a suit of somber black"; "a somber mood" [syn: sombre]

  2. lacking brightness or color; dull; "drab faded curtains"; "sober Puritan gray"; "children in somber brown clothes" [syn: drab, sober, sombre]

Usage examples of "somber".

In spite of the beachboy appearance, he was somber and seemed intelligent in his reporting.

And as the somber clouds gathering from the east extended farther out over the peaks, threatening to cut off the sun, a tentative wind swept down the Caballo Peak slope, riffled across the lake, and a few seconds later streaked on by the agent.

At a respectful distance stood a sizeable crowd of somber and ragged citizens from the town, summoned by whatever served as a grapevine in that grapeless land.

Bare boughs or somber leaves were illuminated from below by a rainbow lace of colored lamps, which outlined paths and terraces like dim-burning jewels dropped on velvet.

Their numbers were small compared to the Legions of Erith encamped on the other side of the Landbridge, but on either flank of their bivouac, somehow blending with rock and bush, large numbers of other incarnations swelled the forces of Namarre and these glowed infragreen, like somber marsh-lights.

People who expect a Mesozoic landscape to be colorful are apt to be disappointed, since all the plant life is pretty much the same dark, somber green, without flowers.

Elsewhere, the engine plumes, creeping up the maglines like vines up a trellis, stripped and ionized the oxygen and nitrogen, and flowers bloomed in the somber colors ghosts were said to favor.

He wore a lime-green jacket and white patent leather shoes and, in deference to the somber occasion, his porkpie hat was black.

Mount Franklin was now hooded by a somber cloud of sinister aspect, and, amid the flames, vomiting forth incandescent rocks, some of which fell back into the crater itself.

For some reason Safar was left feeling somber, moody, while Iraj was still chortling.

During a somber ceremony, the crewmen said their farewells, each in his own language, both to the dead Sardinian and to the lost Englishman.

I want to make damn sure that none of these drunks goes over there and shoots poor Henry Thompson, who is somber enough already without getting shot.

Along with noting the size and fierceness of the salmon, the fogbound treachery of the coasts, the fishing villages of the Yurok and Tolowa people, log keepers not known for their psychic gifts had remembered to write down, more than once, the sense they had of some invisible boundary, met when approaching from the sea, past the capes of somber evergreen, the stands of redwood with their perfect trunks and cloudy foliage, too high, too red to be literal trees carrying therefore another intention, which the Indians might have known about but did not share.

This carried the audience into both supernal and infernal regions and its music, somber and imposing, called for an orchestra of viols, lutes, lyres of all forms, double harps, trombones and organ.

Some days they were somber and gray, long, sodden bats of woolpacks unrolling over the mountains.