so·​ber | \ ˈsō-bər How to pronounce sober (audio) \
soberer\ ˈsō-​bər-​ər How to pronounce sober (audio) \; soberest\ ˈsō-​b(ə-​)rəst How to pronounce sober (audio) \

Definition of sober

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : not intoxicated He's a half-decent guy when he's sober, but when he's drunk, he's just not accountable for what he does, and he spends a lot of time drunk.— Stephen King
b : abstaining from drinking alcohol or taking intoxicating drugs : refraining from the use of addictive substances (see substance sense 3c) Blossom learns that life isn't always rosy, especially for recovering substance abusers, when she discovers her brother Anthony—clean and sober for two years—wilting when he's tempted by a liquor bottle.TV Guide
c : sparing in the use of food and drink : abstemious He was a large, saturnine man, … comparatively sober in his habits, as people must be who make money out of other people's vices.— Dorothy L. Sayers
2 : marked by sedate or gravely or earnestly thoughtful character or demeanor
4 : marked by temperance, moderation, or seriousness a sober candlelight vigil
5 : subdued in tone or color
6 : showing no excessive or extreme qualities of fancy, emotion, or prejudice


sobered; sobering\ ˈsō-​b(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce sober (audio) \

Definition of sober (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make sober

intransitive verb

: to become sober usually used with up

Other Words from sober


soberly \ ˈsō-​bər-​lē How to pronounce sober (audio) \ adverb
soberness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for sober

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for sober


serious, grave, solemn, sedate, staid, sober, earnest mean not light or frivolous. serious implies a concern for what really matters. a serious play about social injustice grave implies both seriousness and dignity in expression or attitude. read the proclamation in a grave voice solemn suggests an impressive gravity utterly free from levity. a sad and solemn occasion sedate implies a composed and decorous seriousness. remained sedate amid the commotion staid suggests a settled, accustomed sedateness and prim self-restraint. a quiet and staid community sober stresses seriousness of purpose and absence of levity or frivolity. a sober look at the state of our schools earnest suggests sincerity or often zealousness of purpose. an earnest reformer

Examples of sober in a Sentence

Adjective I'm driving, so I have to stay sober tonight. He is a sober, hardworking farmer. The story is a sober look at drug abuse. Illness is a sober reminder of our mortality. The article is a sober reflection on the state of our nation. Verb He returned home from the war, saddened and sobered by his experiences. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In the series, Zendaya plays Rue, a high school addict struggling to stay sober while also juggling relationships and friendships. Alexandra Schonfeld,, 21 Apr. 2022 The series addresses serious issues but also finds the funny in trying to stay sober. Marc Malkin, Variety, 16 Feb. 2022 Anything that takes you away from that has got to go, and if your husband will not stay sober, that means him as well. Annie Lane, oregonlive, 6 Oct. 2021 Both teens, who are now sober, found support at a Denver public high school called 5280 dedicated to helping kids in recovery. NBC News, 29 Apr. 2022 Welch has been sober for eight years, but lockdown was hard. Olivia Marks, Vogue, 26 Apr. 2022 Also, Ethan and Archer (Brian Tee, Steven Weber) help a patient with ties to Ethan’s late father, and Dylan and Maggie (Guy Lockard, Marlyne Barrett) are baffled by a drunk patient who claims to be sober. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, 20 Apr. 2022 At Daniel's arraignment Sunday, defense attorney John Godfrey said his client recently attended a drug-counseling program and got sober, the Times reports. Kyler Alvord,, 19 Apr. 2022 Garrow indicated that the driver was sober, but the woman may have consumed alcohol or drugs. Teri Figueroa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Friedman sets the scene by reminding us that starting well before 1973, Cohen had a reputation for being gloomy and restless, prone to depression and drugs, and whether high or sober a seductive charmer of women. Washington Post, 15 Apr. 2022 Schmidt explained to the nurse that there was nothing for her father to sober up from. Kelly Davis, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Apr. 2022 Putin’s war has been enough of a shock to sober up even such figures as Annalena Baerbock, the leader of Germany’s thoroughly loopy Green Party, who has taken a hard turn toward realism in her new role as foreign minister. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, 17 Mar. 2022 Has any drunk person ever noshed on an apple to sober up? William Earl, Variety, 21 Mar. 2022 Does this stem from the misconception some people have that coffee will sober them up after drinking? Larry Greenemeier, Scientific American, 9 Nov. 2010 Sobering mats are a place where homeless people who want help can be taken immediately and offered a safe place to sober up. Joe Tash, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Jan. 2022 The fact that Covid will always be with us should not freak people out but sober them up. The Editors, National Review, 22 Dec. 2021 The Knicks, who had fallen behind, were starting to sober up. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, 6 Dec. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sober.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of sober


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1c


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for sober


Middle English sobre, from Anglo-French, from Latin sobrius; akin to Latin ebrius drunk

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Time Traveler for sober

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The first known use of sober was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near sober

so be it



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Statistics for sober

Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sober.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for sober


so·​ber | \ ˈsō-bər How to pronounce sober (audio) \
soberer; soberest

Kids Definition of sober

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : not drinking too much : temperate
2 : not drunk
3 : having or showing a serious attitude : solemn a sober voice
4 : having a plain color sober clothes
5 : carefully reasoned or considered a sober reminder


sobered; sobering

Kids Definition of sober (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to make or become less drunk
2 : to make or become serious or thoughtful The news sobered us.

More from Merriam-Webster on sober

Nglish: Translation of sober for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sober for Arabic Speakers


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