\ˈsau̇(-ə)r \

Definition of sour 

(Entry 1 of 3)

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

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

3a : unpleasant, distasteful

b : cross, sullen

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

b : the primary taste sensation produced by acid stimuli

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 \ adjective
sourly adverb
sourness noun

Examples of sour in a Sentence


The milk had turned sour. He made a sour face.


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

The quick-pickled red onions added a sweet-sour hit of vibrant crunch. Carrie Dennett, The Seattle Times, "Grain bowls are trending. Here’s how to make your own.," 28 Nov. 2018 There is clearly a party going on at Bloomingdale’s, despite a corporate tie-in with that sour old creature the Grinch. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "Mr. and Mr. Polar Bear, Karaoke, and the Grinch: A Closer Look at the Holiday Windows," 27 Nov. 2018 My sour attitude was transformed into one of childlike wonder. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Benedict Cumberbatch voices the Grinch in the new movie. It’s pretty fun!," 9 Nov. 2018 According to Aly, the encounter quickly turned sour. Lily Herman, Teen Vogue, "Incoming U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Refused to Talk to Aly Raisman," 25 July 2018 Made from grape brandy, it’s frequently imbibed in the form of a pisco sour or punch. Michele Parente,, "3 Peruvian powerhouses are throwing quite the birthday party for Pisco Liberty Station," 13 July 2018 Of course, the relationship between Cohen and Trump went sour after the FBI ran all up in the lawyer’s cribs and took all the documents. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "Michael Cohen Breaks Up With Trump and Makes It Social-Media Official," 5 July 2018 There's also a growing international appetite for thicker, sour grades produced in the Gulf of Mexico, especially in Asia. Jordan Blum, Houston Chronicle, "Oil exports hit new 3 million barrels record," 27 June 2018 Its broth, with a mild infusion of kimchi juice, is glossy and full of body but missing some of the sour-and-spicy character that makes sundubu an ideal hangover helper. Mike Sula, Chicago Reader, "Andersonville’s Passerotto is a tale of two peninsulas," 21 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

If the housing market sours, banks could cut off their funding—which doomed some nonbanks in the last crisis. Annamaria Andriotis, WSJ, "The New Mortgage Kings: They’re Not Banks," 6 Sep. 2018 Try a sherry cobbler or a New York sour—classics for a reason—or inquire about a favorite. Alex Van Buren, Condé Nast Traveler, "21 Best Bars in New York City," 1 Mar. 2018 With the pickleball courts on their third day of being out of service due to some repairs to the fence, Murphy is on this day, well, more than a little half-sour. Amy S. Rosenberg,, "Ocean City and the most cutthroat pickleball game at the Jersey Shore," 11 July 2018 The bar has also experimented with a cauliflower sour, says DORO Restaurant Group partner Scott Miller. Leeanne Griffin,, "Beyond Bloody Marys: Drinking Your Veggies At Your Favorite Cocktail Bar," 23 Jan. 2018 Which nations will feel the sweetness of joy and which the sour of despair? Jared Young,, "Own goals are having a big impact in the 2018 World Cup," 21 June 2018 Guests sample 5 rare sour & funky beers from Rhinegeist cellars, including newest sour ale of dark descent. Rasputin Todd,, "Things to do in Cincinnati this week: June 18-24," 18 June 2018 The most popular brews include juicy, low-bitterness IPAs and fruity sherbet sours. Robert Allen, Detroit Free Press, "Purple beer helps this Ann Arbor brewery draw national attention," 31 May 2018 Consider that fruit-forward sours can often bridge the gap between wine and beer. Kathy Flanigan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A summer (and fall) guide to beer and cider festivals," 14 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This experience soured the minds of some in Japan even today, where officials say the Japanese population tends to think that the country’s launch industry blows up a lot of rockets. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Quietly, Japan has established itself as a power in the aerospace industry," 15 Nov. 2018 The Mail story points out that Willian is one of several Chelsea players keen for Conte to move on after his relationship with many individuals soured last season., "Maurizio Sarri Expecting to Be Hired by Chelsea on Monday in Time for First Day of Pre-Season," 6 July 2018 The project dragged on for two years, with spiraling costs that soured her relationship with the contractor. New York Times, "For House Flippers, Reality Meets Reality TV," 15 June 2018 Zoe Cruz, a currency trader whose rise through the ranks at Morgan Stanley made her one of the most powerful women on Wall Street, lost her job after the firm’s subprime mortgage bets soured. Sarah Krouse, WSJ, "Once a Force on Wall Street, Zoe Cruz Moves to the Cryptocurrency World," 25 May 2018 Nordea’s management drafted the relocation plan last year after relations with Sweden’s government soured. Niklas Magnusson,, "Nordea Wins Shareholder Approval to Move Headquarters to Finland," 15 Mar. 2018 Its stock price has steadily declined in recent months, a sign that scandals have taken a toll and that Wall Street has soured on the company even beyond concerns about Facebook’s growth. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Facebook won’t fix itself," 15 Nov. 2018 Beyond his initial aggravation at the public dissonance that Haley's remarks on Sunday invited, there was no indication Wednesday that Trump had soured on Haley. Jeremy Diamond, CNN, "Haley's retort shows why she's unique in Trump's White House," 18 Apr. 2018 Even after the relationship between Apple and Google soured, the companies' coders kept working together on an obscure but important piece of software called LLVM. Klint Finley, WIRED, "Using Open Source Designs to Create More Specialized Chips," 12 Apr. 2018

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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Learn More about sour

Dictionary Entries near sour

soup to nuts

soup up



sour ball



Statistics for sour

Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sour

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

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More Definitions for sour



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 \
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
sourness noun


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 \

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 sense 2, sweet

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sour

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sour

Spanish Central: Translation of sour

Nglish: Translation of sour for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sour for Arabic Speakers

Comments on sour

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to enclose within walls

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