\ 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

Order a sour beer, Prosecco or Aperol spritz at your own peril. Dina Mishev, Washington Post, "Missoula," 11 Sep. 2019 The acerbic fizz of kombucha, the barnyard funk of fancy ciders, the ruckling tartness of sour beers—these and other harshnesses are ascendant among people who regard a hard seltzer as an instance of philistine minimalism. Troy Patterson, The New Yorker, "How the Orange-Wine Fad Became an Irresistible Assault on Pleasure," 7 Sep. 2019 On a recent visit, a rich, smoked brisket medianoche ($13) with Swiss cheese and braised cabbage paired nicely with the Strawberry Bling sour beer ($6 for 12 ounces). Michael Mayo,, "Review: Good pizza and creative beer at 3 Sons Brewing in Dania Beach," 5 Sep. 2019 The oil facility processes sour crude oil into sweet crude, then later transports onto transshipment points on the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. Fox News, "Drone strikes target world's largest oil processing facility, Saudi oil field; attack claimed by Iranian-backed rebels," 15 Sep. 2019 The facility processes sour crude oil into sweet crude, then transports it onto transshipment points on the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea or to refineries for local production. Jon Gambrell, Anchorage Daily News, "Yemen’s Houthi rebels launch drone strikes on large Saudi oil processing site," 14 Sep. 2019 The dish featured Takoi's Thai sour sausage blended with puffed rice and Thai chilies, cooled off with cilantro, plus ginger and a kick of saltiness from fish sauce. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "These were 10 of our favorite bites from the Detroit Free Press Wine + Food Experience," 14 Sep. 2019 Ani Caranfilas mans the kitchen and pours sauce on finished trays as members of the Orthodox Church of St. Matthew prepare sarmale, a dish made with sour cabbage similar to stuffed cabbage rolls last Saturday. Katie Jones,, "Smell the sauerkraut: Columbia church starts preparing for an Orthodox October feast," 12 Sep. 2019 This is a sweet, salty and sour sauce made from pickled fruit. Natalia E. Contreras, Indianapolis Star, "Not your basic snacks: This Noblesville shop offers some of Mexico's best street foods," 10 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

From classic witbiers to funky sours, there’s something for everyone. Layla Khoury-hanold,, "Fresh Marquette: Outdoor sports haven in Michigan’s U.P. serves up booming culinary scene," 28 Aug. 2019 Patrons can reliably find a range of pale ales, lagers, stouts, IPAs and sours, Herrera said. Andre Meunier,, "Experimentation, education served up in style at Labrewatory: Portland Breweries Series," 7 Aug. 2019 Ghost Train rocks smoothie sours like the Chugga Peach Cobbler and the Pau Hana Punch, and Trim Tab brings the coast to us with its Beach Club series including a Mango Colada Imperial Sour. Birmingham Magazine, al, "Birmingham magazine’s Best and Worst of Birmingham," 3 Sep. 2019 The overall rig count is down 14 percent in the last 12 months amid lower crude oil prices, record-high U.S. oil output, Wall Street turning sour on the energy sector, and the ongoing U.S.-China trade war. Jordan Blum, Houston Chronicle, "West Texas' Permian Basin leads yet another rig count dip," 30 Aug. 2019 The Rare Barrel has won numerous awards for its sours, earning a reputation as one of the top sour breweries in the country. Greg Wilson, The Mercury News, "Brewery Adventure: Peek inside Berkeley’s Rare Barrel," 23 July 2019 Envy is a sour, seething desire for someone else’s possessions, whether things, abilities, spouses, or good luck. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "Envy and American Art," 22 Aug. 2019 The beers have inspired numerous other brewers to start making wild sours. Robert Allen, Detroit Free Press, "Here are the eight essential Michigan craft beers," 21 June 2019 There’s a nice bar that serves strong cocktails, with sections devoted to rums, bourbons or Bruts, along with a foamy pisco sour. Gustavo Arellanostaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "At Pikoh, Peruvian superstar chef Ricardo Zarate holds back his fastball for a West L.A. crowd," 24 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Investors had also lost confidence in Mr Saikawa as profits plunged and relations soured with Renault, Nissan’s partner, following the ousting of Carlos Ghosn. The Economist, "Business this week," 14 Sep. 2019 Earlier on Wednesday, a survey by a prominent American business association showed the trade dispute was souring the profit and investment outlook for U.S. companies operating in the world's second-biggest economy. NBC News, "Trump delays tariff hike on some Chinese goods by two weeks," 12 Sep. 2019 Bad managers soured promising work connections, disingenuous players magnified the predatory behaviors and toxicity of the industry, as well as double standards faced by female artists. Jessi Roti,, "Angel Davanport is back on her own terms: ‘Rap is such a popular sport. Everybody wants to be famous. I want to leave a legacy with my art’," 29 Aug. 2019 And in 2015, Netanyahu famously delivered a speech to Congress attacking Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, infuriating the then-president and souring what was already a strained relationship. Washington Post, "As Trump questions loyalty of US Jews, Israeli PM is quiet," 23 Aug. 2019 Hagar and Florence’s relationship soured over the years and came to an end in 2016, when the two split, citing creative differences., "Sammy Hagar sells El Paseo to new owners in Mill Valley," 25 July 2019 This beer is kettle soured, but not only slightly so, and spiked with coriander for a little spice. Jess Fleming, Twin Cities, "Bad Weather’s gose restores our faith in the style," 16 July 2019 The backdrop of Atocha Station is the Iraq War, already souring globalism, America in decline. Jordan Kisner, The Atlantic, "Boy, Uninterrupted," 10 Sep. 2019 The inverted yield curve, a key predictor for financial downturns, has appeared in recent months at a time when international markets have soured. Lucinda Shen, Fortune, "Are We Near a Recession? The Godfather of the Inverted Yield Curve Says It’s ‘Code Red’," 9 Sep. 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

8 Oct 2019

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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

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to be made up of

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