Definition of solemn in English:



  • 1Formal and dignified.

    ‘a solemn procession’
    • ‘The enormous space which had before seemed cathedral-like in its solemn majesty and timelessness, now resembled the aftermath of a hurricane or earthquake.’
    • ‘A splendid orchestra and chorus group set up a solemn and glorious atmosphere for the play.’
    • ‘As Big Ben struck quarter-to-noon the solemn music of the approaching procession outside became more audible.’
    • ‘In a symbolic gesture one of his sculptures was uncovered in a solemn ceremony.’
    • ‘The officers who took part in the solemn ceremony pointed out that they ‘had laid down their lives today for the sake of our tomorrow’.’
    • ‘The committee proposes that couples should be free to choose where they want to get married, though the location must not detract from the solemn nature of the ceremony.’
    • ‘A band blows solemn notes as two riders on magnificently caparisoned horses trot to the president's box, salute, and trot back to raucous cheers.’
    • ‘We went then from the cold church in solemn procession, singing litanies into the thin air.’
    • ‘Graduation and similar ceremonies should be solemn, with the national flag raised at the front.’
    • ‘In the solemn atmosphere of the memorial ceremony, many victims' relatives were unable to contain their emotions as they remembered their loved ones.’
    • ‘The American National Anthem will be played followed by solemn music during the ceremony instead of the usual marches.’
    • ‘The funeral procession was solemn but lofty, as befit the prince.’
    • ‘There were, of course, the solemn ceremonies at the parish church, the best attended of the year after Christmas.’
    • ‘Yet, while magic had not lost its potency or usefulness, most of its solemn pomp and ceremonial value was long gone.’
    • ‘More than 200 people attended a solemn ceremony at the City Hall Memorial Garden to honour Hong Kong's war dead.’
    • ‘Organ music at the Mass set a solemn tone, but the day's ceremonies ended on a festive note, with fireworks and a ball under the stars.’
    • ‘A record number of veterans brought a forest of flags to a former Second World War prisoner-of-war camp for a solemn ceremony to remember fallen comrades.’
    • ‘It's a solemn, formal occasion witnessed with pride by family and friends.’
    • ‘Rochdale remembered its war dead in solemn ceremonies throughout the borough.’
    • ‘Across the Potomac, an equally solemn ceremony took place this morning at the World War II Memorial.’
    dignified, ceremonious, ceremonial, stately, courtly, majestic, imposing, impressive, awe-inspiring, portentous, splendid, magnificent, grand, important, august, formal
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    1. 1.1 Not cheerful or smiling; serious.
      ‘Tim looked very solemn’
      • ‘His brown eyes were serious and solemn as he watched her.’
      • ‘He wasn't being playful anymore, instead he was totally serious, solemn even.’
      • ‘George's smile faded into a solemn understanding of her predicament.’
      • ‘There's a solemn, ruminative atmosphere, and it's strange to see so many people and hear so little noise.’
      • ‘He then turned to stare at her, and Usagi realized that he had never looked that solemn and serious when he was with her before.’
      • ‘Let them begin this solemn journey with our heartfelt prayers.’
      • ‘His expression changed from a cheery smile to a solemn frown.’
      • ‘Chase, feeling very solemn despite the smile he wore, looked deeply into her eyes.’
      • ‘Finally he sat up to face her, his eyes now solemn and serious.’
      • ‘The look of hope in her eyes was too solemn for a smile.’
      • ‘There are people all over writing solemn and thought-provoking pieces to mark the completion of a year that's not been one of humanity's most noble.’
      • ‘I wouldn't have agreed to it, but he had sounded so serious and so solemn that I had said yes before I could stop myself.’
      • ‘She watched him with her deep eyes, then a small smile broke her solemn face.’
      • ‘Not one of them shed a tear, but sat there on the uncomfortable wooden seats, trying to mask their anguish with solemn seriousness.’
      • ‘A forum that often is raucous and rowdy was solemn and grave.’
      • ‘The painter's face assumed a serious, almost solemn expression.’
      • ‘When you go into a courtroom you are doing something very serious and solemn and you are representing more than just the rights of your client.’
      • ‘We need not argue at length that philosophy is serious, but this does not mean that it needs to be solemn or humourless.’
      • ‘We resumed holding hands, all our faces now purposefully solemn, though with little smiles twitching at our mouths.’
      • ‘The title of the novel suggests a solemn and introspective work.’
      serious, earnest, grave, sober, sombre, unsmiling, poker-faced, stern, grim, dour, humourless, glum, gloomy, moody, stony-faced
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  • 2Characterized by deep sincerity.

    ‘he swore a solemn oath to keep faith’
    • ‘I was persuasive with the governor and he swore a solemn oath to me that you would come to no harm from this.’
    • ‘He saw a single tear fall from her cheek, and watched her make that solemn oath to herself.’
    • ‘After marrying Romola he wounds her deepest feelings by betraying her father's solemn trust.’
    • ‘The document has not been cast as a statement under oath or as a solemn affirmation or made in a similar manner as to bind the conscience of the author of the document.’
    • ‘And, beyond logistics, Carlton was a public servant, bound by a solemn sworn duty to uphold the law.’
    • ‘Bolingbroke gives his solemn oath that he has come not to usurp the throne but simply to reclaim his rightful goods and title.’
    • ‘I, First Councilor Reneeth, give my solemn oath that you shall be treated fairly.’
    • ‘Democrats and Republicans are on different sides of the aisle, but we have a shared oath and a solemn obligation to serve our country together.’
    • ‘Each individual undergoing treatment takes a solemn oath to change their behavior.’
    • ‘For centuries now, we have had experience with people who come to court to testify, and they take the familiar solemn oath.’
    • ‘I had made a promise, a solemn oath, to be with him for the rest of my days, and to the oath I would keep.’
    • ‘That accord had the solemn commitment of the major parties in Parliament.’
    • ‘When they join the Colours, young soldiers make a solemn commitment: that if necessary, they will lay down their lives for their country.’
    • ‘A solemn commitment will be made in front of everyone and rings can be exchanged.’
    • ‘The solemn pledge taken included an oath swearing to quit the drug habit and to avoid association with former friends and others still involved with drugs.’
    • ‘Her voice grew serious and I could tell her face was taking on the unfamiliarity of really being solemn and genuine about something.’
    • ‘From early days the taking of solemn religious oaths was regarded as an essential part of the political and social order.’
    • ‘I am moved at weddings, the idea of a solemn commitment that's made in a church, in a sacred place, in front of friends and family.’
    • ‘Those entering a civil partnership will not do so lightly, and are making a solemn commitment of partnership and mutual support.’
    • ‘The associate justices wrote that they are ‘bound by solemn oath to follow the law, whether they agree or disagree with it’.’
    sincere, earnest, honest, genuine, firm, committed, unconditional, heartfelt, wholehearted, sworn, formal
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Middle English (in the sense ‘associated with religious rites’): from Old French solemne, from Latin sollemnis ‘customary, celebrated at a fixed date’, from sollus ‘entire’.