\ˈsäp \

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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for sop

Synonyms: Noun

boodle, bribe, fix

Synonyms: Verb

bathe, bedraggle, douse (also dowse), drench, drown, soak, souse, wash, water, water-soak, waterlog, wet, wet down

Antonyms: Verb

dehydrate, desiccate, dry, parch, scorch, sear

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Did You Know?


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


as a sop to the teachers' union for supporting his reelection campaign, the mayor promised to push for the abolition of the residency requirement


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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In a sop to them, the cabinet has agreed to step up preparations for such an outcome. The Economist, "Britain’s new Brexit plan is savaged—by its own Brexit secretary," 9 July 2018 In a sop to them, the cabinet has agreed to step up preparations for such an outcome. The Economist, "The biggest risk to Theresa May’s new Brexit plan is not from her party," 8 July 2018 What’s unclear is whether Microsoft is providing the dongle as a sop to those who are investing in the USB-C interface and peripherals, or whether Microsoft sees USB-C as a true replacement for the Surface Connector. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft's $80 Surface USB-C dongle suggests there'll be no new Surface Dock," 25 June 2018 In a sop to big business, the administration has proposed loosening Depression-era regulations aimed at limiting the amount of time 16- and 17-year-olds can spend doing hazardous work, such as mining, roofing, or operating a chain saw. Rikha Sharma Rani, The New Republic, "Weaponizing Children," 8 June 2018 Is the National Football League’s new national-anthem policy a sop to President Trump or a nod to the millions of football fans who were beginning to think the people in charge of the country’s most popular professional sport were losing their way? Jason L. Riley, WSJ, "The NFL Stops Indulging a Dangerous Narrative," 29 May 2018 With expectations so low, sops like that may earn Mr Maduro a few votes. The Economist, "How chavismo makes the taps run dry in Venezuela," 10 May 2018 There are also no real sops in the novel to the current politics of feminism, the demand that feminist rhetoric center women of color, or even to its focus on relitigating the rules of consent. Michelle Dean, The New Republic, "Tensions between two generations of feminists animate Meg Wolitzer’s novel.," 12 Apr. 2018 There is talk of recognising the right to self-employment in the constitution, a sop to the 580,000 people who work in trades opened up to entrepreneurs by the government. The Economist, "Cuba bids goodbye to the revolutionary generation," 12 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Laurie Sorsen Becerra, from Sow Low, Ariz., told KSAT her husband Jay found their dog Smokey sopping wet on May 1 and wanted to see what happened. Scott Berson, charlotteobserver, "Watch dog with a 'heart of gold' dive into the water to save his doggy best friend | Charlotte Observer," 15 May 2018 Blot, Then Set First, sop up excess oil with blotting papers. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "6 Ways to Make Your Foundation Look Like a Second Skin," 12 July 2018 Use the jalapeño cheese bread to sop up Goode's tangy barbecue sauce and don't forget a slice of pecan pie. Houston Chronicle, "Houston's favorite barbecue joints," 10 May 2018 The dish is inspired by the flavors of paella, and suggests serving the mussels with a good bread to sop up all the juices. Robin Currie,, "Bring the tapas bar home with 'Boqueria'," 5 July 2018 On a wall is the cover, drawn by Fred Ray, of the 1941 Superman No. 12, a surviving piece of art from the industry’s earliest days, when original pages were destroyed, used to sop up ink or given away. George Gene Gustines, New York Times, "A Connoisseur of Saviors in Capes and Tights," 3 July 2018 The full ramekin came with just four mini toasts and needed about 12, but the servers did bring extra regular bread for sopping up the tangy juices. Kate Washington, sacbee, "It’s good to be back: Celestin’s revives its particular brand of gumbo and grace," 22 June 2018 His shirt clung sopping to his back, and with each gust he was nearly robbed of breath. Earl Swift, Outside Online, "The Incredible True Story of the Henrietta C.," 20 June 2018 Most arrive alongside hubcap-size naan disks for sopping, so bring friends and get after it with your hands. Choose Chicago, Bon Appetit, "10 of Our Favorite Under-the-Radar Chicago Restaurants," 21 May 2018

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.

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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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Dictionary Entries near sop

sooty stripe

sooty tern

sooty wing





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Time Traveler for sop

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

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More Definitions for sop



English Language Learners Definition of sop

: something that is done or given to someone in order to prevent trouble, gain support, etc.


\ˈsäp \
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.

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Comments on sop

What made you want to look up sop? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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