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

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 How to pronounce sobering (audio) \

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 How to pronounce soberly (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But when risks get serious and widespread, media coverage gets sober. David Bauder, Anchorage Daily News, "Media faces challenges in covering coronavirus outbreak," 2 Mar. 2020 At the end of 2017, Cosentino decided to get sober, and later invited Bruno into her normally solitary writing process. Andrea Domanick, Los Angeles Times, "Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino on living, and touring, sober: ‘I feel very powerful’," 26 Feb. 2020 Casey said his brother's wife and kids inspired him to get sober. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Ben Affleck says his biggest regret in life is divorcing Jennifer Garner," 19 Feb. 2020 Local property owners said the bill didn’t go far enough to restrict the sober homes that were proliferating in their neighborhoods. Christine Vestal,, "Maryland woman working to expose opioid treatment scam," 14 Oct. 2019 With the love of his family behind him, Dillon turned it all around — and now, he's been sober for over two years. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "‘American Idol’ Contestant Dillon James on Overcoming His Struggles With Addiction," 19 Apr. 2020 Erin Lee Carr, director of How to Fix a Drug Scandal, says that Farak is sober now. Gina Vaynshteyn,, "Where Is Sonja Farak From How To Fix A Drug Scandal Now?," 2 Apr. 2020 On this side of the Pond, her sober and steady voice was drowned out by a cataract of fear and recrimination that has sullied America’s national life during the coronavirus pandemic. Joseph Loconte, National Review, "The Queen’s Speech," 7 Apr. 2020 The job of city comptroller — essentially, Milwaukee's chief financial officer — calls for someone who is both sober and financially astute. Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bice: Candidate for city's top finance post says he is on 'comeback' from bankruptcy and OWI," 17 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But after a week of sobering data, Lofven now seems to be striking a darker tone. Niclas Rolander,, "Sweden Girds for Thousands of Deaths Amid Laxer Virus Policy," 8 May 2020 Houston’s first sobering center presents an alternative to that outcome and is seeking help from the community to continue its work. Instead of arresting them, officers bring some individuals to the sobering center. Tracy Maness, Houston Chronicle, "Houston Recovery Center offers different kind of help," 6 Sep. 2019 The scene is sobering to watch, particularly for fans used to seeing Beyoncé put together. Ineye Komonibo,, "Beyoncé’s Best-Ever Acting Performance Is Now On Netflix," 9 Apr. 2020 Sports, our great escape, has become our sobering reality. Christine Brennan, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Shuttering sports shows us how the coronavirus crisis should be handled," 12 Mar. 2020 For others,sobering images provide a window into what has been lost, from caskets being laid into a field on New York City’s Hart Island to white body bags in a vacant room at Detroit’s Sinai-Grace Hospital. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, "America has suffered great loss before. Here's how we may learn to cope with coronavirus death toll.," 18 Apr. 2020 Trump backed off the Easter date, in part in reaction to sobering estimates from the government’s experts that even in a best case, 100,000 people or more may die in the epidemic. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 2 Apr. 2020 Hours after Fauci’s sobering assessment, President Trump extended the voluntary national shutdown for a month. Michael R. Sisak,, "Up to 200K US deaths foreseen as more cities stricken," 29 Mar. 2020 Merkel's comments fit a pattern of government officials using sobering warnings to try to get people to protect themselves, most notably by washing their hands and not gathering in large numbers. Nicole Winfield, Colleen Barry, John Leicester, Anchorage Daily News, "World Health Organization declares the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic," 11 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for sober

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for sober

Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sober.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for sober


How to pronounce sober (audio)

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 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 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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More from Merriam-Webster on sober

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sober

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sober

Spanish Central: Translation of sober

Nglish: Translation of sober for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sober for Arabic Speakers

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