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 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 Extracted from the root of a plant native to West Africa, the drug produces psychedelic effects akin to a waking dream and is said by its advocates to spirit away withdrawal symptoms with a single dose, leaving users sober and uninterested in smack. Wired, "A Detox Drug Promises Miracles—If It Doesn't Kill You First," 15 Sep. 2019 While tipping back the Hibiki whiskey, Oyama-san—sober but loose enough to show vulnerability—talked about his divorce, and then Fukushima. Adam H. Graham, Condé Nast Traveler, "Slow Skiing in Japan's Deep North," 11 Oct. 2018 Chris Marshall in Austin, Texas, has been sober since 2007. Author: Leanne Italie, Anchorage Daily News, "With a nudge from the young and sober, mocktails taking hold," 4 Sep. 2019 This group—part sober research collective, part Animal House shenanigans—called itself the Megatherium Club. Smithsonian, "The Hard-Drinking Early Smithsonian Naturalists of the Megatherium Club," 4 Sep. 2019 Some press reports, beneath the alarming headlines, related a more sober version of events, and a few isolated voices, most notably the environmentalist Michael Shellenberger at Forbes, resisted the dominant narrative. Rich Lowry, National Review, "The Amazon Scam," 30 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This is paired with Rockaway’s sobering depictions of sexism in tech – the way her co-workers not only harass Mel but also belittle and discredit her abilities purely because of her gender is infuriating, and sadly, all too relatable. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Hot Stuff: July romances offer 'knotty' self-discovery," 30 July 2019 The repercussions of this revelation are immediately sobering. Aja Romano, Vox, "Big Little Lies season 2, episode 2: “Tell-Tale Hearts” asks if families can survive their own secrets," 17 June 2019 The real numbers are sobering and a call to action. Byron Mccauley,, "The fatal drowning rate for black kids is stark. History is part of that.," 13 June 2019 When divvied up by region, race and class, the results are sobering. John Myers,, "For Californians, the golden dream depends on where you live and how much you earn," 9 June 2019 Memories of the stockyards may be sobering, but a visit to The Plant shows inspiration in action. Louisa Chu,, "2 food tours of Chicago: Where to eat and what to drink to savor the city," 9 Aug. 2019 His takeaway was sobering: the stakes of the battery war are sky-high, and the United States is being lapped by its competitors. Michael Zelenko, The Verge, "The US is losing the high-stakes global battery war," 13 Aug. 2018 Morris and her accuser agree that she was brought inside to lie down, drink water and sober up before driving home. Dallas News, "Plano East basketball coach quit after investigation upheld claim she sexually harassed district employee," 26 Aug. 2019 Richards sobered up years after admitting to having a problem with addiction, and has spent the better part of the last year training strictly for this trip. Cory Richards, National Geographic, "What’s harder than summiting Everest? Getting climbers to respect it again.," 5 Apr. 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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Statistics for sober

Last Updated

25 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for sober

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

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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).


a calculated move

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