\ 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
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 … 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

acid, acidic, acidulous, sourish, tart, tartish, vinegary

Synonyms: Verb

alien, alienate, disaffect, disgruntle, estrange

Antonyms: Verb


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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 only sour note was the squabble over whether the players deserved the same pay as members of the men’s national team. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 11 July 2019 Things ended on a sour note for Kerr, who launched her penalty well over the crossbar in the shootout against Norway in the round of 16. Jeremy Mikula,, "Sam Kerr came back from the World Cup with a bang. And it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Chicago Red Stars.," 3 July 2019 Running a chopstick along the spine, the fish separated into clean halves for easy access to meat that accentuated the mackerel’s deep, oily flavor with citrus, salt and sour notes. Mike Sutter,, "Review: Kuriya @ Cherrity Bar delivers Japanese ramen with San Antonio charm," 3 July 2019 The lemon-caper sauce atop the chicken schnitzel ($24) adds an unpleasant sour note to the dish, while the panko breading is too soft and the meat is absent a juicy interior. Daliah Singer, The Know, "Restaurant review: Prohibition-era Arvada Tavern is all about the (really great) drinks," 26 June 2019 Crowe plays them all with the same sour note, saving his breath for the peaks (Ailes’s bellicose tirades) and coming up short in quieter moments that, given all the dramatic license being taken, could lend the story some effective shading. Hank Stuever, Washington Post, "‘The Loudest Voice’ really sticks it to Roger Ailes, who is still dead and doesn’t care what anyone thinks," 13 June 2019 Baja Crush joins the hops list of other sour beers, including Cucumber Crush and Raspberry Crush. San Diego Union-Tribune, "The Dish: South American tea-centric cafe comes to Pacific Beach," 6 June 2019 So when chiles are combined with something sweet, salty and sour, the first payoff is the sugar because your tongue detects it first, and then your brain produces dopamine. Daniela Galarza, New York Times, "‘Tajín Is a Lifestyle’: An Appreciation of the Mexican Seasoning Mix," 10 June 2019 The milk is sour, and someone (no one’s perfect, not even Eli!) put an empty Cheerios box in the refrigerator. David Canfield,, "Exclusive: The author of A Simple Favor is back with another juicy thriller," 5 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Its quintessential sour-salty taste is original and very Russian. Washington Post, "Pass the lilac jam, please. Russian foodies explore tastes from the pre-Soviet past.," 26 June 2019 Its lime- and lemon-sour profile with a pinch of sea salt won over judges at this year’s Canadian Brewing Awards. Brierley Horton,, "8 Best Gluten-Free Beers You'll Want to Stock Up On," 27 June 2019 San Diego’s Modern Times Beer is represented by Atlantis, a red wine barrel-aged sour matched with Lebanon bologna. Washington Post, "14 things to do in the D.C. area this week," 24 June 2019 Krantz rarely bought clothes off the rack, and the thought of entering a mall turned her sour. The Washington Post,, "Judith Krantz, best-selling racy romance novelist, dies at 91," 23 June 2019 During a family trip to Costa Rica, things quickly turned sour between Matt and Amy. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "The Real Reason Why 'Little People, Big World' Stars Amy and Matt Roloff Divorced," 10 Apr. 2019 Hell or High Watermelon, 21st Amendment Brewery Fruity sours are our jam, but there’s no reason fruit can’t make it into other types of beer, too. Ac Shilton, Outside Online, "The 12 Best Summer Beers of 2019," 10 June 2019 O’So’s sours are top-notch, but with 30 offerings, there’s something for every palate. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Beer and a bike ride: 12 breweries along bike trails in Wisconsin," 6 June 2019 Alma This Peruvian restaurant has great Pisco sours. Kelly Dinardo, WSJ, "Geneva Beyond the Cliché," 12 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The promise and optimism that the removal of authoritarian rulers in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan brought have since soured through gradual backsliding in the years that followed. Tom Ball, The New Republic, "How to Stage a Successful Revolution," 1 July 2019 Officials also soured on inflation: The median one now sees a less-volatile price gauge closing out the year at 1.8 percent and 1.9 percent in 2020. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Fed holds rates steady but cracks door to future cut," 19 June 2019 The Hawkeye State has soured on Trump, and the president’s trade war isn’t helping matters. Dylan Scott, Vox, "Democrats suddenly look strong again in the Midwest," 25 Oct. 2018 On the other side, Democratic strategists expect to see new evidence of an anti-Trump backlash, particularly in suburban districts across New Jersey and California, where many voters have soured on the Republican president. Steve Peoples And Michael Blood, The Christian Science Monitor, "California, other midterm primary matchups show potential for blue wave," 5 June 2018 Two surveys last year painted an unambiguous picture: Republicans had soured on higher education. Adam Harris, The Atlantic, "The Higher Education Nearly All Americans Love," 21 May 2018 What Colyer is: a relatively unknown governor who now must run in a heavily contested Republican primary in a state that has largely soured on Brownback. Hunter Woodall And Bryan Lowry, kansascity, "Can Colyer shake Brownback’s shadow? ‘Nobody confuses Trump and Pence,’ he says," 12 Feb. 2018 Her innocence soured not long after her father and mother divorced in 2014. Andrew Boryga,, "She came to South Florida to heal from her drug abuse. Months later she was dead.," 21 June 2019 In 1989 public opinion had soured because of inflation, corruption, and stagnating living standards—and the party itself was divided among reformers and hard-liners. Ian Johnson, The New York Review of Books, "China’s ‘Black Week-end’," 17 June 2019

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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Dictionary Entries near sour

soup to nuts

soup up



sour ball



Statistics for sour

Last Updated

16 Jul 2019

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 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

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

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


an act or instance of editing or removing

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