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

Once a person is sober again, the brain’s memory processing returns to normal. Julia Belluz, Vox, "Blackout drinking, explained for Brett Kavanaugh," 3 Oct. 2018 The members of Sober Shake, a group of alcohol and drug free music fans, will be at the event to provide clean and sober fellowship and support. Chrissie Dickinson,, "Country Lakeshake bringing the best, the brightest and everybody else," 19 June 2018 The dramatic architecture—its enormous scale, meticulous detailing, sober materials—is tailor-made to evoke transcendence and closeness to a higher power. Diana Budds, Curbed, "Based on your zodiac sign, what should your Halloween costume be?," 10 Oct. 2018 In 2017, Davidson talked about about his Crohn's disease, depression and fight to stay sober. Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY, "Reports: Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson are engaged after weeks of dating," 11 June 2018 Jacquie Red Feather is a substance abuse counselor who struggles to stay sober after her daughter killed herself 13 years prior. Chelsea Leu, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘There There,’ by Tommy Orange," 6 June 2018 Under the new program, repeat, high-risk offenders may, as a condition of bond, be required to stay sober and wear a SCRAM anklet that constantly monitors the presence of alcohol. Jim Newton, Lake County News-Sun, "Alcohol-sensing ankle monitors the latest tool against repeat DUI incidents in Lake County," 15 Apr. 2018 The bond for both required her to remain sober and to not get into trouble with police. Jane Ford-stewart, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Muskego woman who drove drunk, crashed into tree gets two years in prison on fifth OWI," 21 June 2018 They're expected to remain sober and considered on-call for the duration of their training. Adam Ashton, sacbee, "Pay cuts for misbehavior and dozens of dismissals: Is Cal Fire's crackdown going too far? | The Sacramento Bee," 24 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But when a person is unruly or combative, they are taken to the detention center to sober up there instead. Jacob Beltran, San Antonio Express-News, "Family seeks answers after woman hanged self in police custody," 21 June 2018 Still, the numbers for a player who is already on the short list of the best receivers in team history are sobering. Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, "Doug Baldwin says he’s healthy, ball just didn’t go his way Sunday," 9 Oct. 2018 The experience of stateless Palestinians is sobering. The Economist, "Syrian refugees could turn into the new Palestinians," 30 June 2018 To think that David Mamet has been on Broadway 10 times during this period is sobering. Charles Mcnulty,, "Tony Kushner, thinking citizen: The playwright on 'Angels in America,' 'West Side Story' and surviving Trump," 30 Mar. 2018 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

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

6 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on sober

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sober

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sober

Spanish Central: Translation of sober

Nglish: Translation of sober for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sober for Arabic Speakers

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).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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