so·ber | \ˈsō-bər \
soberer\ˈsō-bər-ər \; soberest\ˈsō-b(ə-)rəst \

Definition of sober 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : sparing in the use of food and drink : abstemious

b : not addicted to intoxicating drink

c : not drunk

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 \

Definition of sober (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make sober

intransitive verb

: to become sober usually used with up

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Other Words from sober


soberly \ˈsō-bər-lē \ adverb
soberness noun

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


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.


He returned home from the war, saddened and sobered by his experiences.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Lovato co-owns Cast Centers with Bayer, and credits Bayer with helping her get sober in 2011. Rebecca Farley,, "Is Demi Lovato Insulting Her Life Coach With This Brutal Tweet?," 6 July 2018 In one case, an owner, medical director, and two employees of a sober living facility were charged with conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud, health care fraud and money laundering, according to a news release. Linda Trischitta,, "Authorities charge 601 people in health care fraud, opioid crackdown," 28 June 2018 Clarkson said Coyle was clearly intoxicated and was barred from entering the shelter, which is a sober facility. Devin Kelly, Anchorage Daily News, "Discrimination complaint against downtown Anchorage women’s shelter opens up political front," 14 Mar. 2018 Lentz said the house was one of several sober living facilities in St. Tammany Parish. Bob Warren,, "'I love this man.' Recovering addict credits Covington chief, opens sober living house," 26 Feb. 2018 Matthew Lillard plays Jimmy Bishop, a recovering addict operating a struggling sober living facility. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Halfway There' and 'Paint': TV Review | Sundance 2018," 24 Jan. 2018 The performances of a superb cast, led by Jonas Kaufmann, Nina Stemme, Christian Gerhaher, René Pape and Wolfgang Koch, are sober, responsible, gray. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, "Review: A Conductor Sets Munich’s Ashen ‘Parsifal’ Aflame," 1 July 2018 Now, at 46, Rozyn is sober, married and working as a home health aide. Daniela Altimari,, "From Trauma to Activism: Former Victim of Sex Trafficking Now Advocates To End It," 28 June 2018 Documentaries, often sober counter-programming for the summer months, are instead supplying the movie season's most potent wellspring of feel-good inspiration – particularly to liberal moviegoers. Jake Coyle, The Christian Science Monitor, "How two documentaries became summer box office hits," 28 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This is a movie in which the de-rigueur baptism scene is of the preacher himself being dunked to sober up. Author: Ann Hornaday, Anchorage Daily News, "Is ‘Damsel’ the first Western for the #MeToo generation?," 28 June 2018 The Boston Fed president came to town this week with a message to sober up before the economy heads south again. Nick Timiraos, WSJ, "Boston Fed’s Rosengren Says It’s Time to Take Away Monetary-Policy Punch Bowl," 28 June 2018 Scientists are now one step closer to projecting how these bluffs will fare this century — and the outlook is sobering. Rosanna Xia,, "Southern California's coastal communities could lose 130 feet of cliffs this century as sea levels rise," 27 June 2018 His reflections as a physician, patient, and a young man nearing death are sobering and insightful. Phillip Morris,, "Don't call Cleveland Councilman Joe Jones a prodigal son, he never really left: Phillip Morris," 7 Jan. 2018 Andrej Kramaric tied the game with a header shortly before halftime that sobered the Russians like a dip in a frozen lake. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "Russia Is Out of the Russian World Cup," 7 July 2018 Now sobered up, Hickey is trying to convince his fellow barflies to stop clinging to their pipe dreams, and Washington imbues his character with searing delusion, guilt-ridden desperation, and a hint of menace. Christopher Wallenberg,, "Picks and predictions for the Tonys," 8 June 2018 People can do so through via this link: The statistics concerning youth homelessness are sobering. Gail Mitchell, Billboard, "Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Fund & National Law Center Partner to End Youth Homelessness," 28 June 2018 There remains something sobering in Bradbury's tale about leveraging ignorance as a kind of weapon, a means of keeping the masses manageable and docile. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Fahrenheit 451' doesn't catch fire with HBO adaptation," 18 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of sober


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


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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Learn More about sober

Dictionary Entries near sober


so being

so be it





Statistics for sober

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sober

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

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More Definitions for sober



English Language Learners Definition of sober

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: not drunk

: having or showing a very serious attitude or quality

: plain in color



English Language Learners Definition of sober (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make (someone) serious or thoughtful


so·ber | \ˈsō-bər \
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 child a sober voice

4 : having a plain color sober clothes

5 : carefully reasoned or considered : realistic 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.

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Comments on sober

What made you want to look up sober? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not any or not one

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