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There was no Piggy to talk sense. There was no solemn assembly for debate nor dignity of the conch. ~ William Golding

Solemnity, refers to the quality of being solemn, deeply somber or serious, or ceremonies to be performed with such qualities. The word derives from the Latin sollemnis (ritual; festive, solemn, customary, celebrated at a fixed date), itself from sollus (entire). A Solemnity of the Roman Catholic Church is a principal holy day in the liturgical calendar, usually commemorating an event in the life of Jesus, his mother Mary, or other important saints.


  • A judge can't have any preferred outcome in any particular case. And a judge certainly doesn't have a client. The judge's only obligation — and it's a solemn obligation — is to the rule of law, and what that means is that in every single case, the judge has to do what the law requires.
    • Samuel Alito, in Confirmation Hearing on the Nomination of Samuel A. Alito, Jr. to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (January 2006), p. 56
  • Being solemn has almost nothing to do with being serious, but on the other hand, you can't go on being adolescent forever, unless you are in the performing arts, and anyhow most people can't tell the difference. In fact, though Americans talk a great deal about the virtue of being serious, they generally prefer people who are solemn over people who are serious.
    In politics, the rare candidate who is serious, like Adlai Stevenson, is easily overwhelmed by one who is solemn, like General Eisenhower. This is probably because it is hard for most people to recognize seriousness, which is rare, especially in politics, but comfortable to endorse solemnity, which is as commonplace as jogging.
    Jogging is solemn. Poker is serious. Once you grasp that distinction, you are on your way to enlightenment.
    • Russell Baker, in "Why Being Serious Is Hard" in So This Is Depravity (1980), p. 17
  • In the last analysis ability is commonly found to consist mainly in a high degree of solemnity. Perhaps, however, this impressive quality is rightly appraised; it is no easy task to be solemn.
  • Sapping a solemn creed with solemn sneer.
    • Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto 3, Stanza 107
  • He had a quiet way with the girls, and with the men a way of solemn, blinking simplicity which caused the more hasty in judgment to consider him a fool.
    • James Branch Cabell, in Figures of Earth : A Comedy of Appearances (1921), Ch. I : How Manuel Left the Mire
  • No one is exempt from talking nonsense. The great misfortune is to do it solemnly.
  • If you are different, you had better hide it, and pretend to be solemn and wooden-headed. Until you make your fortune. For most wooden-headed people worship money; and, really, I do not see what else they can do.
    • Oliver Heaviside, in Electromagnetic Theory (1912), Volume III; p. 1; "The Electrician"
  • Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.
  • A serious writer is not to be confused with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.
  • Scott took LITERATURE so solemnly. He never understood that it was just writing as well as you can and finishing what you start.
    • Ernest Hemingway, in a letter to Arthur Mizener (12 May 1950); published in Ernest Hemingway : Selected Letters 1917-1961 (1981) edited by Carlos Baker
  • There was no Piggy to talk sense. There was no solemn assembly for debate nor dignity of the conch.
  • There must be something solemn, serious, and tender about any attitude which we denominate religious. If glad, it must not grin or snicker; if sad, it must not scream or curse. It is precisely as being solemn experiences that I wish to interest you in religious experiences.
  • Because of its tremendous solemnity death is the light in which great passions, both good and bad, become transparent, no longer limited by outward appearances.
    • Soren Kierkegaard, in The Journals of Søren Kierkegaard as translated by Alexander Dru (1959)
  • Earth and fire and water and air
    We solemnly promise, we solemnly swear
    Not a word, not a hint, not a sound to declare
    Earth and fire and water and air!
  • Gloom and solemnity are entirely out of place in even the most rigorous study of an art originally intended to make glad the heart of man.
    • Ezra Pound, in ABC of Reading (1934) Prefatory "Warning"
  • There is no absurdity so palpable but that it may be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to inculcate it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity.
    • Arthur Schopenhauer, in Studies in Pessimism : A Series of Essays as translated by T. Bailey Saunders (1891), p. 78
  • An exaggerated and solemn respect always indicates a loss of faith.
    • Gene Wolfe, "Seven American Nights", Orbit 20 (1978), ed. Damon Knight. Reprinted in The Best of Gene Wolfe (2009)
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