\ˈsȯrs \

Definition of source 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : a generative force : cause

b(1) : a point of origin or procurement : beginning

(2) : one that initiates : author also : prototype, model

(3) : one that supplies information

2a : the point of origin of a stream of water : fountainhead

b archaic : spring, fount

3 : a firsthand document or primary reference work

4 : an electrode in a field-effect transistor that supplies the charge carriers for current flow — compare drain, gate


sourced; sourcing

Definition of source (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to specify the source of (something, such as quoted material)

2 : to obtain from a source metals sourced from abroad



Definition of source (Entry 3 of 3)

: of, relating to, or being source code a source file

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Other Words from source


sourceless \ˈsȯrs-​ləs \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for source


origin, source, inception, root mean the point at which something begins its course or existence. origin applies to the things or persons from which something is ultimately derived and often to the causes operating before the thing itself comes into being. an investigation into the origin of baseball source applies more often to the point where something springs into being. the source of the Nile the source of recurrent trouble inception stresses the beginning of something without implying causes. the business has been a success since its inception root suggests a first, ultimate, or fundamental source often not easily discerned. the real root of the violence

Examples of source in a Sentence


The college had its own power source. She has been a great source of strength to me. His job is the family's main source of income. A government source spoke to the press today. The reporter has refused to reveal his sources. According to one source, the program will not cost a lot. information from various intelligence sources
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But other sources, like vehicles, power plants, and agriculture, can cut particulates by electrifying, using scrubbers, or employing dust mitigation tactics. Umair Irfan, Vox, "How improving air quality could add years to people’s lives around the world.," 21 Nov. 2018 The main source of the blue light we're exposed to is the sun, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Macaela Mackenzie, Allure, "How Your Phone's Blue Light Could Be Damaging Your Skin, According to Derms," 19 Oct. 2018 The owners select coffee beans from single-source, fair-trade farms in Northern Thailand, Ethiopia, and Yemen, do all the roasting themselves, and hand-grind the beans to order. Katie Lockhart, Condé Nast Traveler, "11 Best Places For Coffee in Bangkok," 18 Oct. 2018 The talks in New York, confirmed by a source familiar with the matter, have been described to Recode as tense. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "SoftBank is betting the Vision Fund on WeWork," 10 Oct. 2018 Bedding startups have gotten funding from a variety of sources, including venture capital and private equity firms. Jeff Andrews, Curbed, "Why ads for bedding startups are all over the subway," 5 Oct. 2018 The review was prompted, sources told the paper, because of recent behavior by Musk, including smoking marijuana on a podcast. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "NASA concerned about culture of “inappropriateness” at SpaceX," 20 Nov. 2018 Many workers have come to rely on overtime as a key source of income. Tripp Mickle, WSJ, "Apple Suppliers Suffer as It Struggles to Forecast iPhone Demand," 19 Nov. 2018 Real-time ray tracing mimics how light behaves in the real world by mapping out rays that originate from 3D illumination sources in a scene. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "RTX on! Battlefield V becomes the first game to support DXR real-time ray tracing," 14 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Notes of hinoki, juniper, and eucalyptus sourced from 100 percent all-natural essential oils combine within a coconut and apricot wax blend while encased in a reusable handthrown stoneware container. Erin Nicole Celletti, Teen Vogue, "7 Fall Candles Under $60," 16 Nov. 2018 Most of the dockless startups source their scooters from Chinese firms like Xiaomi and Segway-Ninebot. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Ford adds electric scooter startup to its growing mobility collection," 8 Nov. 2018 LXMI’s heavenly scented balm contains cold-pressed ingredients sourced in the Nile Valley that, when warmed between the palms, transform into a smooth oil-gel hybrid for better looking skin by morning. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "10 Face Creams to Combat Winter Skin Before It Starts," 13 Oct. 2018 During the early rise of social media, between roughly 2005 and 2008, Reddit and Tumblr took over as the primary grounds through which memes were created, sourced, and circulated. Aja Romano, Vox, "Dank no more: internet memes are evolving from edgy to cute.," 3 Oct. 2018 Tickets include wine and a full meal prepared by the on-site chefs, featuring ingredients sourced from the property’s own gardens. Marielle Wakim, Los Angeles Magazine, "The Best Things to Do in L.A. This Week," 16 Apr. 2018 Other kid-friendly favorites are turkey wraps, mini chicken pot pies and chili — all made from ingredients sourced from Patachou's Public Greens and other local producers. Maureen C. Gilmer, Indianapolis Star, "Fishers teen: 'I never really thought kids could go to bed hungry'," 15 Apr. 2018 Sweet Gem’s flavor roster draws inspiration from Michigan’s distinct agricultural personality and uses ultra-high-quality ingredients sourced both locally and from around the world. Erin Podolsky, Detroit Free Press, "Valentine's Day: Get a chocolate fix from these 10 metro Detroit craft candy makers," 7 Feb. 2018 And then, in a real Mark Twain moment, Elon Musk, in the fashion of Tom Sawyer when whitewashing the fence, open-sourced the hyperloop project, and challenged the works, essentially tricking his friends into picking up the paintbrush. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "In Defense of Elon Musk," 16 Oct. 2018

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1957, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1959, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for source


Middle English sours, from Anglo-French surse spring, source, from past participle of surdre to rise, spring forth, from Latin surgere — more at surge

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Statistics for source

Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for source

The first known use of source was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for source



English Language Learners Definition of source

: someone or something that provides what is wanted or needed

: the cause of something (such as a problem)

: a person, book, etc., that gives information


\ˈsȯrs \

Kids Definition of source

1 : a cause or starting point the source of a rumor

2 : the beginning of a stream of water the source of the Nile River

3 : someone or something that supplies information a reference source

4 : someone or something that provides what is needed a source of supplies a source of strength



Legal Definition of source 

1 : a point of origin the source of the conflict

2 : one that supplies information a journalist's source

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More from Merriam-Webster on source

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with source

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for source

Spanish Central: Translation of source

Nglish: Translation of source for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of source for Arabic Speakers

Comments on source

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


to make faulty or ineffective

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