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

clearheaded, straight

Antonyms: Adjective

blasted [slang], blind, blitzed [slang], blotto [slang], bombed, boozy, canned [slang], cockeyed, crocked, drunk, drunken, fried, gassed, hammered [slang], high, inebriate, inebriated, intoxicated, juiced [slang], lit, lit up, loaded [slang], looped, oiled [slang], pickled, pie-eyed, plastered, potted [slang], ripped [slang], sloshed [slang], smashed [slang], sottish, soused, sozzled, squiffed (or squiffy), stewed, stiff, stinking [slang], stoned, tanked [slang], tight, tipsy, wasted [slang], wiped out [slang]

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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


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

Sam has been clean and sober since last summer when he was arrested for driving under the influence. Rebecca Kesten, Fox News, "Battling the despair of opioid addiction in an unexpected place," 1 July 2018 Stay clean and sober Avoid drug and alcohol use while out on the river. Kellie Hwang, azcentral, "Going tubing this weekend? Essential safety tips to prevent drowning accidents," 8 June 2018 Unfortunately for Andrew, playing hard lead to a struggle to stay sober., "Andrew Riley Carbone," 13 Apr. 2018 Kennedy said drivers should slow down, obey signals, pay attention and stay sober. Andrew Dyer,, "Chula Vista launches campaign to prevent pedestrian deaths," 29 Mar. 2018 She's had a long, difficult history with addiction but had been sober for six years until this latest relapse. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Demi Lovato Shows Fans How She's Fighting for Recovery With a Jiu-Jistsu Selfie," 5 Dec. 2018 What is required in this matter, as in any other, is sober analysis of the facts and the law—not partisan gamesmanship. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "“What is the FCC hiding?” Pai still won’t release net neutrality server logs," 3 Dec. 2018 Kaley Cuoco later revealed that Ryan Sweeting had become addicted to prescription painkillers and was making no effort to get sober, leading to the demise of their union. Vogue, "Celebrity Divorces: 29 of the Most High-Profile Breakups," 27 July 2018 After overcoming both alcoholism and an addiction to methamphetamine, Jodie has now been sober since 2011, and regularly visits colleges to speak to students about her experiences. Emma Dibdin, Country Living, "All About Hallmark Star Jodie Sweetin's Difficult Journey to Find Love After Divorce," 15 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

His treatment—and his wife’s efforts to draw attention to his situation by shaving her head and staging a walk from Beijing to Tianjin—have sobered other Chinese rights activists. Eva Dou, WSJ, "China Puts Rights Lawyer on Trial for Subversion," 26 Dec. 2018 The normally sober David Axelrod of CNN likened Trump to Neville Chamberlain after his infamous meeting with Hitler. Howard Kurtz, Fox News, "A media firestorm as Trump seems to side with Putin over US intelligence," 17 July 2018 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

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

15 Mar 2019

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 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

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).


to corrupt or become corrupted

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