\ ˈsau̇(-ə)r How to pronounce sour (audio) \

Definition of sour

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : being, inducing, or marked by the one of the five basic taste sensations that is produced chiefly by acids and is characteristic of lemon juice sour pickles — compare bitter entry 1 sense 1a, salty entry 1 sense 1b, sweet entry 1 sense 1, umami entry 2
2a(1) : having the acid taste or smell of or as if of fermentation : turned sour milk
(2) : of or relating to fermentation
b : smelling or tasting of decay : rancid, rotten sour breath
c(1) : bad, wrong a project gone sour
(2) : hostile, disenchanted went sour on Marxism
c : not up to the usual, expected, or standard quality or pitch
4 : acid in reaction used especially of soil
5 : containing malodorous sulfur compounds used especially of petroleum products



Definition of sour (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : something sour … they assimilated many Anglo-American sweet pickles and began adding more sugar to their sours.— William Woys Weaver
b : the taste sensation produced chiefly by acids — compare bitter entry 2 sense 1b, salty entry 2, sweet entry 3 sense 2, umami entry 1
2 : a cocktail consisting of a liquor (such as whiskey), lemon or lime juice, sugar, and sometimes ice


soured; souring; sours

Definition of sour (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to become sour

transitive verb

: to make sour

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Other Words from sour


sourish \ ˈsau̇(-​ə)r-​ish How to pronounce sourish (audio) \ adjective
sourly adverb
sourness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for sour

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of sour in a Sentence

Adjective The milk had turned sour. He made a sour face. Verb Her disposition has soured in recent years. Jealousy has soured their relationship. His experiences have soured him. The team's victory was soured by an injury to one of their best players.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Her Emma is pure spun sugar with a tart sour-candy center — and some of the best not-strictly-historical costumes since Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. Leah Greenblatt, EW.com, "The 10 best movies of 2020… so far," 29 June 2020 Throughout the day Saturday, many current and former employees of the Southern District of New York, as the Manhattan prosecutors’ office is formally known, marveled at just how sour relations with their colleagues in Washington had gotten. Katie Benner, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump personally fires US attorney who investigated his associates," 20 June 2020 The concept is simple: When the economy goes sour, footlong sandwiches from Subway are priced at $5. Nicole Goodkind, Fortune, "Who needs economists? The real way to tell we’re in a recession is that Subway’s $5 footlong is back," 19 June 2020 And the tragedy is that most fathers start out wanting to be good parents and partners, but some do not know what to do when their relationships go sour or their personal problems undermine their ability to be effective and loving parents. Paul Florsheim And David Moore, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Opinion: It's time to help men become fathers by giving them the prenatal care they need," 18 June 2020 But in the past decade or so, Triffler says American candy lovers have shifted to the sour side. Purbita Saha, Popular Science, "The intense flavor science behind Haribo’s gummies," 17 June 2020 The one hole in their game might be the lack of a robust sour program, but their taproom-only kettle sours rarely fail to impress. Matt Koesters, Cincinnati.com, "These are the top 5 breweries in Greater Cincinnati right now," 11 June 2020 The lenders will continue to receive interest payments from the borrower and will bear any losses if the loans go sour, the PBOC said. Bloomberg.com, "PBOC Unveils $60 Billion Plan to Aid Small Business Credit," 1 June 2020 These stopped bosses firing employees as soon as the economy turned sour. The Economist, "Why furlough works Germany spends big to save jobs," 20 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Tourist investors are known to be flightier than others when venture capital sours. Lucinda Shen, Fortune, "Is this the flight of the tourist investor?," 14 Apr. 2020 For dessert, sticky toffee pudding with passionfruit caramel sauce, paired with Frog Weiss, a fruited sour. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Third Space and Shully's are having a virtual beer dinner on May 2," 29 Apr. 2020 Banks — say, Deutsche Bank — usually have to take special care with loans that are turning sour. Meg Cramer, ProPublica, "Yes, Trump Hotels Do Appear to Qualify for Coronavirus Bailout Benefits.," 8 Apr. 2020 Prickly pear fizz, a cocktail with Hendricks gin, prickly pear, agave nectar, non-dairy cream, silken tofu, lemon sour and a splash of kombucha. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, azcentral, "An all-vegetarian Mexican restaurant is coming to Tempe. Here's what to expect at GuacStar," 16 Jan. 2020 The beer promised prickly pear flavor but wasn't listed as a sour. Tirion Morris, azcentral, "This pink beer is the only thing you should be drinking on Valentine's Day in metro Phoenix," 14 Feb. 2020 The latest trend in craft beer isn’t hazy IPA or kettle sours or nitro coffee stouts. Esther Mobley, SFChronicle.com, "New California law makes it easier to blur the line between beer and wine," 26 Dec. 2019 Stages of Sundown imperial stout is sublime with vanilla and coffee; Love & Lore, a golden sour conditioned with red tart cherries, could easily be mistaken as coming from a brewery that’s spent years perfecting the art. oregonlive, "2019 Portland Brewery of the Year: Ruse Brewing is this beer city’s rising star," 18 Dec. 2019 Defying expectations for a freshman brewery, the sours are beautifully balanced with acidity, and many deftly incorporate delicate fruit flavors. oregonlive, "2019 Portland Brewery of the Year: Ruse Brewing is this beer city’s rising star," 18 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Last year, Hawaii, a state of 1.5 million people, hosted 10.4 million visitors and those unsustainable numbers have started to sour the aloha spirit. Jen Murphy, Condé Nast Traveler, "When Travel Restarts, Hawaiians Are Hoping for a More Respectful Future," 18 June 2020 North Korea threatened to send piles of propaganda leaflets into South Korea as relations between the two countries continue to sour. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "North Korea says it will send 'leaflets of punishment' across the border into South Korea as tensions remain," 20 June 2020 Violent clashes between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Himalayas threaten to sour the political relationship between Beijing and Delhi. Mike Bird, WSJ, "China-India Violence Underlines Limits to Beijing’s Trade Leadership Dreams," 18 June 2020 If unemployment persists and companies go bust, as many economists expect, many more loans will sour. The Economist, "Pandemic pendulum Why are bank bosses sounding more optimistic about loan losses?," 11 June 2020 But things soured last season when GCU had its first losing season (13-17) under Majerle. Richard Obert, azcentral, "Dan Majerle files court complaint against Grand Canyon University over firing," 19 May 2020 The media coverage also soured, with scientists outside the dome questioning the project's legitimacy. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Spaceship Earth' takes a strange trip inside Biosphere 2, an early experiment in quarantine," 7 May 2020 But then the market appetite for public offerings soured, and investors were not ready to buy the story of synergy that the company was trying to sell. Kim Masters, The Hollywood Reporter, "Kim Masters: High-Flying Endeavor Brought Down to Earth by Virus and Debt," 26 Mar. 2020 But the relationship soured and Goudreau moved forward with the operation anyway, according to accounts in the Associated Press and Washington Post. NBC News, "Ex-Green Beret captured in Venezuela believed U.S. backed overthrow plot: family," 16 May 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sour.' 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 sour


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


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


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for sour


Middle English, from Old English sūr; akin to Old High German sūr sour, Lithuanian sūrus salty

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Time Traveler for sour

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for sour

Last Updated

3 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sour.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sour. Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for sour

How to pronounce sour (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sour

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: having an acid taste that is like the taste of a lemon
: having the unpleasant taste or smell of food that is no longer fresh
: unpleasant or unfriendly



English Language Learners Definition of sour (Entry 2 of 3)

: an alcoholic drink that has a sour taste



English Language Learners Definition of sour (Entry 3 of 3)

of food : to lose freshness and get an unpleasant taste or smell : to become sour
: to become unpleasant or unfriendly
: to make (someone or something) unpleasant or unfriendly
\ ˈsau̇r How to pronounce sour (audio) \
sourer; sourest

Kids Definition of sour

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having an acid or tart taste a sour fruit
2 : having spoiled : not fresh sour milk
3 : suggesting decay a sour smell
4 : not pleasant or friendly a sour look

Other Words from sour

sourly adverb He looked at me sourly enough but said nothing. — Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island


soured; souring

Kids Definition of sour (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to make or become acid or tart in taste (as by spoiling) The milk soured.
2 : to lose or cause to lose interest or enthusiasm He soured on trying new stunts following the mishap.
3 : to harm or damage The misunderstanding soured their friendship.
\ ˈsau̇(ə)r How to pronounce sour (audio) \

Medical Definition of sour

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: causing, characterized by, or being the one of the four basic taste sensations that is produced chiefly by acids — compare bitter, salt entry 2 sense 2, sweet entry 1

Other Words from sour

sourness noun



Medical Definition of sour (Entry 2 of 2)

: the primary taste sensation produced by acid stimuli

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More from Merriam-Webster on sour

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sour

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sour

Spanish Central: Translation of sour

Nglish: Translation of sour for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sour for Arabic Speakers

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