\ ˈsäp How to pronounce sop (audio) \

Definition of sop

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 chiefly dialectal : a piece of food dipped or steeped in a liquid
2 : a conciliatory or propitiatory bribe, gift, or gesture


sopped; sopping

Definition of sop (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to steep or dip in or as if in liquid
b : to wet thoroughly : soak

Definition of SOP (Entry 3 of 3)

standard operating procedure; standing operating procedure

Synonyms & Antonyms for sop

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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The etymology of sop takes us from bread to hellhounds to bribery. The journey starts over 900 years ago, when sop first referred to bread soaked in water, wine, or another liquid. Such soggy bread was considered a treat sure to tempt any appetite. Sops were considered so appealing that English translations of Virgil's Aeneid tell of a sibyl using one soaked in honey to distract and drug Cerberus, the three-headed watchdog of the gates of the underworld, so Aeneas could get by him safely. By the 1600s, that mythological use of sop had given rise to the expression give a sop to Cerberus, meaning "to bribe" and to using sop to refer to a bribe or conciliatory gift.

Examples of sop in a Sentence

Noun as a sop to the teachers' union for supporting his reelection campaign, the mayor promised to push for the abolition of the residency requirement Verb sopped the sponge with the detergent and began scrubbing the floor vigorously my book fell in the swimming pool and was thoroughly sopped before I could fish it out
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And perhaps this audit is merely a sop to activist students and diversity administrators. Faith Bottum, WSJ, 19 Jan. 2022 The cap has always been a sop to unions frightened of competition from charters, which are public schools without the suffocating rules imposed by collective union bargaining. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 23 Aug. 2021 Legal conservatives responded by consolidating around the view that religious exemptions were necessary to protect religious liberty, not a sop to liberal protection of minorities. Noah Feldman Bloomberg Opinion, Star Tribune, 27 July 2021 Critics saw the bonus as a sop to drivers who might resent that the IPO meant a windfall for Lyft executives and the staff classified as employees. Lauren Smiley, Wired, 22 June 2021 If Kerry can be painted as soft on Iran and detrimental toward Israeli policy, the logic seems to go, then the entire Iran deal is suspect, a diplomatic sop to our enemies. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, 27 Apr. 2021 What initially seemed a cost-free sop to conservatives in the rural and religiously devout Polish borderlands next to Ukraine, the May 2019 decision has become a costly embarrassment for the town of Krasnik., 10 Apr. 2021 Raya’s ride is some sort of mollusk-aardvark, a boringly obnoxious little boy is thrown in as a sop to the boys in the audience (or maybe just the obnoxious ones), and there’s a mischievous toddler that amounts to a poopy diaper of writing ability. Kyle Smith, National Review, 10 Mar. 2021 For its part, China has attempted to paint the Quad meetings as a sop to Washington that do not indicate any wider regional shift against Beijing. James Griffiths, CNN, 6 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb As the loan limit increased over time—now $57,500 a year for independent undergrads and $31,000 for those dependent on their parents—colleges raised their prices to sop up more federal largesse. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 29 Apr. 2022 Sourdough bread, another San Francisco staple, made the perfect accompaniment to sop up the remnants at the bottom of a bowl and was commonly served alongside the dish after a long day spent at sea. Magdalena O'neal, Sunset Magazine, 7 Feb. 2022 But no level of herculean effort from DeRozan was enough to sop up the mess of a sloppy Bulls performance. Julia Poe,, 24 Jan. 2022 The Best of Beauty-winning Hask Charcoal Purifying Dry Shampoo is one of the most affordable and effective ways to sop up excess grease, oil, and sweat from your scalp in a pinch. Sarah Han, Allure, 24 Sep. 2021 Serve this with plenty of crusty bread to sop up all the delicious juices that mingle at the bottom of the bowl. Star Tribune, 18 June 2021 Serve this big salad with hunks of rough whole-wheat bread to sop up all the wonderful tidbits left in the bowl. Beth Dooley Special To The Star Tribune, Star Tribune, 5 May 2021 One idea is to develop a robot that can withstand the intense radiation for long enough to drill holes in the FCMs and insert boron cylinders, which would function like control rods and sop up neutrons. Richard Stone, Science | AAAS, 5 May 2021 There were no meds, nothing to stop or sop up the bleeding, no doctors with time for me. Jennifer Zhan, Vulture, 30 Mar. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sop.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of sop


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1529, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for sop


Middle English soppe, from Old English sopp; akin to Old English sūpan to swallow — more at sup

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The first known use of sop was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near sop

sooty wing



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Cite this Entry

“Sop.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for sop


\ ˈsäp How to pronounce sop (audio) \
sopped; sopping

Kids Definition of sop

1 : to soak or dip in or as if in liquid He sopped the bread in gravy.
2 : to mop or soak up The water was sopped up with rags.

More from Merriam-Webster on sop

Nglish: Translation of sop for Spanish Speakers


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