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

According to Sam Thonis and Regina Dellea, co-owners of the new alcohol-free Getaway bar in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, the appeal of their venture goes beyond the need to stay sober. Anna Ben Yehuda Rahmanan, Fortune, "Alcohol-Free Bars Caught on in the U.S. and U.K. But Can They Go Global?," 22 June 2019 But that isn’t quite right—in part because the crowds at political gatherings tend to be sober. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "On the Oratory Trail in Iowa," 11 June 2019 In a time of goofy selfies, these portraits are sober, reminding us that getting a photo taken back then was serious business, possibly a once in a lifetime experience. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "See the photographs that put the Dells on the map at an exclusive exhibit at West Bend's Museum of Wisconsin Art," 4 June 2019 Now in his 40s, Dan finally gets sober and settles in a New Hampshire town called Frazier. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Little Danny Torrance is all grown up and still shining in Doctor Sleep trailer," 13 June 2019 Its volunteers help out at local sober-living homes. Valerie Royzman,, "NKY Hates Heroin keeps fighting epidemic. 5K coming up on Saturday," 17 June 2018 Tempest’s mission is to be a digital recovery solution for people who don’t identify as addicted or alcoholics, or for those who do and don’t want to use traditional methods of getting sober. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "This New Sobriety School Will Change the Way You Think About Drinking," 29 May 2019 In September, Lil Xan opened up about his hopes for getting sober in light of Mac Miller’s death. Emma Sarran Webster, Teen Vogue, "Lil Xan Announced Plans to Go to Rehab," 16 Nov. 2018 He is also said to be working with a sober coach, and attending therapy. Megan Stein And Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "'Alaskan Bush People' Star Matt Brown Has Left Rehab," 10 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The diverse mix of songs added up to a performance that was at once energizing and sobering, vibrant and solemn — a fitting performance to end the first week of the festival. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Summerfest 2019: The National, Tori Kelly and more of the best and worst from the side stages on Day 5," 1 July 2019 Steinman, along with fellow advertising industry veterans Bethany Iverson, Liz Giel, and Erinn Farrell, had banded together around the vision of diversity, but were sobered by the reality of the slow pace of change. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Can coworking companies sell inclusive communities?," 21 June 2019 Primary voters should be sobered by the magnitude of the stakes. William A. Galston, WSJ, "The Midwest Is the Democrats’ Key," 13 Nov. 2018 In this one scene is conveyed the young man’s relief and pride in having survived and grown, even as we’re sobered by the reminder that here was a boy who was sent off to war. Kevin Baker, Harper's magazine, "Freedom from Inspiration," 10 Mar. 2019 This new moon, harmonizing with sobering Saturn, is about taking responsibility for material security. Randon Rosenbohm, Allure, "What Your Sign’s May Horoscope Predictions Mean for You," 30 Apr. 2019 The numbers were still sobering for Democrats, however. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Scott Walker amasses $4 million campaign war chest, dwarfing Dem rivals in Wisconsin governor's race," 15 Jan. 2018 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

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

5 Jul 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).


food or victuals

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