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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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 The goal is similar to the technique used by Alcoholics Anonymous to help people overcome addiction by creating partnerships with sponsors who help newcomers stay sober. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Religious groups fight porn as ‘greatest threat to Christian purity’," 24 Nov. 2019 Olivier knew, even in the midst of depression and the hard fight to stay sober, that the path to a healthy, stable home lay in the growth of her own self-reliance, not more co-dependence. Michael Dumas, al, "Event seeks to fund lasting change for families in need," 9 Oct. 2019 Kimberly Hill runs a sober-living house for women with opioid addictions in Dodgeville in southwestern Wisconsin. Parker Schorr, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "While millions are spent to fight the opioid epidemic, a meth crisis quietly grows in Wisconsin," 17 Oct. 2019 Sober-living decision delayed The council also postponed a decision on an application for a sober-living home to continue operating in Costa Mesa. Daily Pilot, "Costa Mesa will reconsider street vending ordinance with fewer restrictions," 16 Oct. 2019 The operator had applied for permits for its sober-living homes at 783 Hudson Ave. Los Angeles Times, "Judge rules Costa Mesa can enforce its sober-living restrictions as lawsuit continues," 4 Sep. 2019 Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders—Waller is clean and sober for two years and appears ready to make an impact for the Raiders. Dr. Roto,, "Fantasy Football 2019: TE Rankings and Tiers," 30 Aug. 2019 Since then, The Wheelhouse has helped hundreds of men find their way to a clean and sober lifestyle. Tyler Johnson, Houston Chronicle, "Motorcycle rally to aid Deer Park rehabilitation facility," 9 Aug. 2019 While the overnight shelter didn’t require women to be clean and sober, the single-room occupancy units do., "Salvation Army women’s shelter closes from incomplete, vague application for funding," 17 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb California’s financials look good, but underneath the glitz, the structural problems are sobering. The Editorial Board, Orange County Register, "Surplus or not, Newsom and the Legislature must show restraint," 2 Dec. 2019 The stats are sobering: Nearly half of all women over the age 50 in the U.S. will break a bone due to the condition. Madeleine Burry, Woman's Day, "I Thought My Mom Was Just Clumsy. Turns Out She Has This Disease.," 15 Oct. 2019 The statistics are sobering; the causes are well documented. Teen Vogue, ""Thoughts and Prayers" Are Killing Us," 1 Oct. 2019 Unlike plenty of sobering folk tunes, that one had a happy ending: the letter ended up inspiring the man to clean up, and the two remain friends. Joe Lynch, Billboard, "The Village Trip Returns With Glorious Hootenanny at Iconic Greenwich Venue," 27 Sep. 2019 Their bond had grown stronger when Sandi, inspired by Winnie Mae’s sobriety, sobered up, too., "NEXT:," 24 Sep. 2019 At 102 wins, the Yankees are still vying for ultimate home field advantage with the Houston Astros (who also have 102 wins), so competitive fire may sober out any clinch-day hangovers. Shayna Rubin, The Mercury News, "How the Athletics’, Rays’ and Indians’ schedules impact the wild-card race," 23 Sep. 2019 That’s a sobering downfall from its peak price of $71.57 reached in 2017 just before the first round of wildfires altered its financial landscape. Washington Post, "PG&E falls into deeper hole in 3Q with $1.6 billion loss," 7 Nov. 2019 From the views of Table Mountain and sobering history of Robben Island to caged shark tours and wine experiences in the countryside, Cape Town will blow you away. Danielle Pointdujour, Essence, "Black Travel Vibes: Hang With Penguins In Cape Town," 6 Nov. 2019

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

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Sober.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 14 December 2019.

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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

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 assail by words or arguments

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