Definition of solemn in US English:



  • 1Formal and dignified.

    ‘a solemn procession’
    • ‘Across the Potomac, an equally solemn ceremony took place this morning at the World War II Memorial.’
    • ‘More than 200 people attended a solemn ceremony at the City Hall Memorial Garden to honour Hong Kong's war dead.’
    • ‘Graduation and similar ceremonies should be solemn, with the national flag raised at the front.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A splendid orchestra and chorus group set up a solemn and glorious atmosphere for the play.’
    • ‘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’.’
    • ‘We went then from the cold church in solemn procession, singing litanies into the thin air.’
    • ‘It's a solemn, formal occasion witnessed with pride by family and friends.’
    • ‘Yet, while magic had not lost its potency or usefulness, most of its solemn pomp and ceremonial value was long gone.’
    • ‘The funeral procession was solemn but lofty, as befit the prince.’
    • ‘As Big Ben struck quarter-to-noon the solemn music of the approaching procession outside became more audible.’
    • ‘In the solemn atmosphere of the memorial ceremony, many victims' relatives were unable to contain their emotions as they remembered their loved ones.’
    • ‘There were, of course, the solemn ceremonies at the parish church, the best attended of the year after Christmas.’
    • ‘In a symbolic gesture one of his sculptures was uncovered in a solemn ceremony.’
    • ‘The American National Anthem will be played followed by solemn music during the ceremony instead of the usual marches.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Rochdale remembered its war dead in solemn ceremonies throughout the borough.’
    • ‘The enormous space which had before seemed cathedral-like in its solemn majesty and timelessness, now resembled the aftermath of a hurricane or earthquake.’
    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’
      • ‘He wasn't being playful anymore, instead he was totally serious, solemn even.’
      • ‘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 title of the novel suggests a solemn and introspective work.’
      • ‘She watched him with her deep eyes, then a small smile broke her solemn face.’
      • ‘We resumed holding hands, all our faces now purposefully solemn, though with little smiles twitching at our mouths.’
      • ‘The look of hope in her eyes was too solemn for a smile.’
      • ‘Finally he sat up to face her, his eyes now solemn and serious.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The painter's face assumed a serious, almost solemn expression.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There's a solemn, ruminative atmosphere, and it's strange to see so many people and hear so little noise.’
      • ‘We need not argue at length that philosophy is serious, but this does not mean that it needs to be solemn or humourless.’
      • ‘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 brown eyes were serious and solemn as he watched her.’
      • ‘George's smile faded into a solemn understanding of her predicament.’
      serious, earnest, grave, sober, sombre, unsmiling, poker-faced, stern, grim, dour, humourless, glum, gloomy, moody, stony-faced
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    2. 1.2 Characterized by deep sincerity.
      ‘he swore a solemn oath to keep faith’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The associate justices wrote that they are ‘bound by solemn oath to follow the law, whether they agree or disagree with it’.’
      • ‘That accord had the solemn commitment of the major parties in Parliament.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A solemn commitment will be made in front of everyone and rings can be exchanged.’
      • ‘Bolingbroke gives his solemn oath that he has come not to usurp the throne but simply to reclaim his rightful goods and title.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For centuries now, we have had experience with people who come to court to testify, and they take the familiar solemn oath.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘After marrying Romola he wounds her deepest feelings by betraying her father's solemn trust.’
      • ‘Those entering a civil partnership will not do so lightly, and are making a solemn commitment of partnership and mutual support.’
      • ‘I, First Councilor Reneeth, give my solemn oath that you shall be treated fairly.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When they join the Colours, young soldiers make a solemn commitment: that if necessary, they will lay down their lives for their country.’
      • ‘Each individual undergoing treatment takes a solemn oath to change their behavior.’
      • ‘And, beyond logistics, Carlton was a public servant, bound by a solemn sworn duty to uphold the law.’
      • ‘From early days the taking of solemn religious oaths was regarded as an essential part of the political and social order.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’.