Emotion Thesarus Entry: Somberness

When it comes to emotion, sometimes we need a brainstorming nudge. After all, each character will express their feelings differently depending on their personality, emotional range, and comfort zone. We hope this short, sample list of expressions will help you better imagine how your character might show this emotion!

If you need to go deeper, we have detailed lists of body language, visceral sensations, dialogue cues, and mental responses for 130 emotions in the 2019 expanded second edition of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression.


  • Becoming soft-spoken, devoid of emotion, deadpan
  • A dark or weighted outlook
  • Folding the hands in the lap
  • Flaccid yet unwelcoming body language
  • A monotone voice
  • Dark or heavy observations
  • A bleak mood that affects others, lessens energy, brings people down
  • Drab or plain clothing choices
  • A grim twist to the mouth
  • Difficulty engaging in conversation
  • Sedate mannerisms, minimal or economical movement
  • Becoming unresponsive, distracted
  • Accepting a negative outcome or realization
  • Loss of interest in the usual hobbies or entertainments…

Win your readers’ hearts by tailoring your character’s emotional responses so they’re compelling, credible, and realistic.

If you struggle with writing emotions, you aren’t alone. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression has helped writers all over the globe, and it can help you. To find out more about this bestselling book, please visit our bookstore.

Prefer the flexibility of instant online access and greater searchability?

The Emotion Thesaurus is also at our sister site, One Stop for Writers. Visit the Emotion Thesaurus Page to view our complete list of entries.

TIP: While you’re there, check out our hyper-intelligent Character Builder that helps you create deep, memorable characters in half the time!


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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9 Responses to Emotion Thesarus Entry: Somberness

  1. Pingback: Resources For Describing Emotion

  2. Angela says:

    PJ: Woot! How was your road trip?

  3. PJ Hoover says:

    I recommend your blog to everyone I know!

  4. Angela says:

    Thanks, Christy! We’re so glad that you are getting so much out of this blog!!

  5. Angela says:

    Thanks guys. I admit, this one was difficult for me, because the expression of this emotion is less exuberant than other emotions. If anyone has any actions to add, please do so in the comments, with our thanks!

  6. So many meanings for one word. Thanks for the great list!


  7. Becca says:

    Well yay! Thanks so much, Christy!

  8. C.R. Evers says:

    Once again, another great list! This is why I nominated you on my blog today for the “I love your blog” award. :0)

    I think you may have already had this passed to you, but you deserve another nomination for all your hard work! :0)


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