I need an adjective for that please, is about the energy of the room feeling both sad but quiet and peaceful.

  • There was a ____ atmosphere in the room.
  • You can't be sad and peaceful at the same time, until you're spent and that sadness settles into a lull.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jul 11 at 1:58
  • 2
    I feel sad and peaceful at the same time when I visit the beautiful place where my parents' ashes are scattered. BTW the word might be "pensive".
    – nigel222
    Commented Jul 11 at 16:53

10 Answers 10


Try sombre (US somber).

serious, sad, and without humour or entertainment:

a sombre atmosphere/voice/face

The funeral was a sombre occasion.


  • 4
    "Somber" in American English, I think.
    – Wastrel
    Commented Jul 10 at 14:43

Perhaps the closest you'll get is melancholic:

melancholy [noun]:

a feeling of pensive sadness

  • an air of melancholy surrounded him

[also adjective]

Oxford Dictionary of English, courtesy of Google

'Pensive' must imply peacefulness:

pensive: 1. thinking in a quiet way

[Cambridge Dictionary]

  • 7
    As the ODE entry that you quote observes, melancholy can function as an adjective in the much same sense as melancholic, as in the song "My Melancholy Baby." But to describe an atmosphere, rather than a person, melancholic might be a slightly better choice.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Jul 11 at 16:24

Earlier responses are good, however "sad but quiet and peaceful" suggests an accepted sadness, and previous answers didn't convey that to me. Some other options might be:

  • Sorrowful
  • Wistful
  • Plaintive
  • Crestfallen
  • Downhearted
  • Sullen

You can also use a word that does not have a definition related at all to what you need, but which conveys the right sense:

  • Wintry
  • Colorless
  • Gelid
  • Damp
  • Faded
  • Hollow
  • Empty

And so on.

Also, to address other responses with my (subjective) opinion:

  • Sombre emphasizes that the sadness is heavy and burdensome, not quite that it's peaceful.
  • Melancholic is better, but emphasizes the behavior of the sad people. It doesn't necessarily suggest that they are habitually and unreasonably sad, but the word is often used in that sense, maybe because of its proximity to "melodramatic" and "morose". Using its noun form, melancholy, improves this, as it emphasizes the atmosphere.
  • Dead, of course works in a particular style of writing, but probably not what you're looking for.
  • 3
    Thirteen suggestions. Too many. Some I like (+1) but some I think do not fit at all (-1)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 10 at 11:41
  • 3
    I liked the fact that many suggestions were included, regardless of what I thought about the words. Especially the "unrelated definition" words were a nice touch. Depending on what the text is used for, going beyond the most popular choice can make the text more colorful.
    – JAG
    Commented Jul 10 at 19:02
  • 4
    Some of your words (crestfallen, sullen (!), devastated, damp, hollow, +) carry no connotation of peace at all. I think the best matches were already proposed when you wrote this. Commented Jul 11 at 8:11

Elegiac may suit your needs. According to the OED, elegiac means:

Of the nature of an elegy; of or relating to elegies. Hence: mournful, melancholy, plaintive.


Elegy, in turn, means:

A song or poem of lamentation, esp. for the dead.


Since songs and poems of lamentation for the dead are usually grave and solemn, an "elegiac" atmosphere should be one that is not only sad but peaceful as well. The peace here, however, may be understood to be thrust upon the atmosphere, a sense that the nature of elegies evokse. As such, if you are seeking a word that expresses peace of mind, elegiac may not be appropriate. But if you are looking for a word that conveys an imposed peace, elegiac will do.


Perhaps forlorn? While there can be an additional layer of pity understood with that one, it conveys a solitary (which some may equate with peace) sadness.

  • A person is forlorn, not an atmosphere.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 13 at 14:11

I'd suggest triste. M-W says mournful.

(The editor thinks it's too brief without the link.)


I believe my answer is exactly what you are looking for: Bittersweet


  1. bringing pleasure mixed with sadness

They were bittersweet memories.

  • 4
    I don't think the OP has mentioned "pleasure" anywhere in their question.
    – user405662
    Commented Jul 10 at 17:53

Perhaps the word 'nostalgic' may be useful. It conveys (to me at least) a little sadness and some peacefulness.

Unfortunately it also carries the meaning of memory, yearning, and so on, not part of your request. But maybe. :-)


As others have said in their answers and comments, you may not find a single word that denotes exactly what you want, so you'll have to decide what connotations you want to emphasize. With that in mind, here's another non-literal option: resigned.

Definition of "resigned" on Wiktionary:

Characterized by resignation or acceptance.

You didn't say why the people in the room feel the way they do. If they are disappointed but choose to react with acceptance rather than defiance, "resigned" could correctly describe their mood.

  • Hello, all. I don't mind the downvote, but an explanatory comment would help me improve my answers in the future. Commented Jul 15 at 18:43

There was a dead atmosphere in the room.

(No, I'm not going to explain what dead means, if you must have an explanation go look at the definition of dead on Wiktionary.)

And if the notion of a dead atmosphere isn't making you sad enough, think of a dead kitten - sad and peaceful enough for anyone, surely?

  • 12
    Hardly an appropriate way to address a newcomer or answer their question. Why the need to be discourteous, is the first first impression you want to leave? And I don't know anyone who sees a dead animal in the road, squashed by a car, feel quiet and peaceful? Less so for a poor harmless kitten. How odd.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 10 at 6:21
  • 4
    If you look up dead, in the context of atmosphere it means "lacking in gaiety or animation". Not necessarily sad or peaceful, just boring.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jul 10 at 9:02
  • 6
    Dead kittens are not a peaceful thing to contemplate unless you're a sociopath.
    – barbecue
    Commented Jul 10 at 16:16

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