Funerals are often somber affairs, and you might have a somber expression on 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, which comes from Late Latin subumbrāre "to cast a shadow," from Latin sub umbrā "under a shadow."

Definitions of somber

adj grave or even gloomy in character

“a suit of somber black”
“a somber mood”
melancholy, sombre
cheerless, depressing, uncheerful
causing sad feelings of gloom and inadequacy

adj lacking brightness or color; dull

“children in somber brown clothes”
drab, sober, sombre
colorless, colourless
weak in color; not colorful

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