\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for sop

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Ending limits on the deduction for state and local taxes is even more obviously a sop to Democratic constituencies. Ramesh Ponnuru Bloomberg Opinion (tns), Star Tribune, "The new Democratic agenda favors the well-educated and well-off," 2 Dec. 2020 His one sop to the Left at the moment seems to be establishment-favorite John Kerry as a special climate adviser. Joseph Simonson, Washington Examiner, "Biden puts premium on Cabinet choices' ability to be confirmed, early picks show," 24 Nov. 2020 The fee cut probably won’t calm the waters between Apple and the larger app developers that have long protested the fee most loudly, and could just be a sop to state and federal regulators. Jack Nicas, New York Times, "Apple Halves Its App Store Fee for the Smaller Companies," 18 Nov. 2020 When the authorities announced voluntary mass testing for the coronavirus this month, some saw it as a way to gather samples of citizens' DNA, or a sop to Beijing, which sent medical staff to help out with the drive. James Griffiths, CNN, "A Hong Kong teenager's death became a magnet for conspiracies, and exposed deep problems in how the city operates," 19 Sep. 2020 As a sop to Chargers owner Dean Spanos, NFL owners gave him first rights to tenancy in the Kroenke Dome. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Kroenke Dome impresses as Rams open $5-billion stadium with victory over Cowboys," 13 Sep. 2020 The question seems to imply that asking the male artist to give up any of the purity of his artistic ambition would turn him into a sop, mediocre and cowed: into, perhaps, a woman. Sarah Menkedick, Longreads, "And Then We Grew Up," 10 Aug. 2020 Moving forward, plans for perennial Israeli primacy over the Holy Land is a powerful sop to key political constituencies for both leaders — Christian evangelical voters for Trump and the nationalist Israeli right for Netanyahu. Washington Post, "Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ is no deal at all," 29 Jan. 2020 This reads like a sop to critics of cultural appropriation. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: Through the Spyglass of Anthropology," 17 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The stone base of this wicker offering, however, can keep buns toasty and ready to sop up sauces throughout the meal. Popular Science, "Gifts to make eating at home feel like dining out," 23 Nov. 2020 Serve it with crusty bread to sop up some of the fragrant broth. Washington Post, "Instant Pot recipes for risotto, braised chicken, black bean soup and spaghetti," 21 Oct. 2020 Grill or broil a few slices of a rustic bread, such as ciabatta, brush them with olive oil and serve alongside to sop up the broth. Washington Post, "Mussels are simple to prepare, and add tasty drama to the table," 29 Oct. 2020 Fresh bread that was packed on the side was soft and just the vehicle needed to sop up the extra dressing. Shaena Montanari, The Arizona Republic, "Scottsdale has a swanky new destination for French comfort fare. Here's what to order," 24 Sep. 2020 Leftover pork is either eaten in sandwiches or drenched in spicy salsas served with corn tortillas to sop up the juicy mess. Anita L. Arambula, San Diego Union-Tribune, "An elevated riff on traditional chile verde," 16 Sep. 2020 Be sure to tear the meat off the bone into thick, ragged hunks to better sop up the dressing. Beth Dooley Special To The Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Chicken salad for the end of summer," 2 Sep. 2020 Serve alongside plenty of steamed rice to sop up all the sauce. Raphael Ilagan, Bon Appétit, "An *Extremely Condensed* Guide to Filipino Vinegars," 24 Aug. 2020 Serve them with crusty bread or spaghetti to sop up the sauce. Saveur Editors, Saveur, "Our Best Classic Italian Recipes for Red-Sauced, Olive-Oiled Glory," 30 May 2017

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sop

Time Traveler for sop

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about sop

Statistics for sop

Last Updated

7 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sop.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sop


How to pronounce SOP (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sop

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


\ 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sop

Nglish: Translation of sop for Spanish Speakers

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!