a. Dark; gloomy: a somber room.
b. Dull or dark in color: somber hues.
a. Melancholy; dismal: a somber mood.
b. Serious; grave: a somber spokesperson.
[French sombre, from Old French, from *sombrer, to cast a shadow, from Late Latin subumbrāre, from Latin sub umbrā, in shadow : sub, under; see SUB- + umbrā, ablative of umbra, shadow.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.