\ 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 sour (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 Like a lasagna or a curry, the medovik gets better over days as the sweet and sour elements slowly merge their molecules. Bill Addison, Los Angeles Times, "How L.A. cake virtuosos learned to thrive on Instagram," 17 Apr. 2021 The foul, sour premise attempts to revise cultural history in an opposite direction from the movie Shoplifters. Armond White, National Review, "The Simpsons Tries to Cancel Morrissey," 21 Apr. 2021 Champagne teddy bears, mint and lime flavored gummy leaves, sour lemon gumdrops, and crème brulee almonds are among the selections., "New bon bons from Lady M, for Mother’s Day (or any day)," 20 Apr. 2021 The Patriot made with Finlandia vodka, cranberry juice and Topo Chico grapefruit; and The Afterburner made with Flor de Cana rum and sour mix. Amber Love Bond, Forbes, "Hyundai Air & Sea Show® Returns To Miami Beach With New Foodie Options," 20 Apr. 2021 To keep up with its competitors, Natty Light is further expanding its spiked seltzer lineup with new sour flavors — watermelon, green apple, lemon and blue raspberry — in May. Jordan Valinsky, CNN, "Natty Light is moving beyond beer into spiked ice pops and flavored vodka," 20 Apr. 2021 Queen Cleopatra bathed in sour milk to reap the benefits of naturally occurring lactic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid, and the Romans and Greeks were known to use corrosive agents such as limestone as a manual exfoliant. Washington Post, "Exfoliating isn’t necessary. But if you do it, follow the tips from these dermatologists.," 12 Apr. 2021 This film was in the can before the death of George Floyd and there are a few sour notes, as when a goon is excessively tasered until his skin burns while Emily asks a bystander not to film it on his phone. Mark Kennedy, Star Tribune, "Review: 'Thunder Force' is forced and lacking any thunder," 9 Apr. 2021 Avoid fish that sour, ammonia-like or too strongly of fish. Darlene Zimmerman, Detroit Free Press, "Asian flavors enhance salmon cooked in parchment paper," 4 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The kimchi sour, for example, does not taste like kimchi in a liquid form. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, "A new Bay Area brewery is making kimchi sours and other Korea-inspired beers - and doing it well," 5 Mar. 2021 Being a generous soul, Tucci followed up his initial success with several more videos, including step-by-step instructions for making a classic margarita, a Scotch sour, an old fashioned, and a Christmas-y cosmopolitan. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "The Secret History of Stanley Tucci's Instagram Cocktail Videos," 10 Feb. 2021 The beer selection will offer some inventive versions of familiar, traditional styles with an imperial stout, a coffee brown ale, a double IPA, a hoppy amber ale and an apricot tart sour. Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas News, "Windmills, an India-based brewery, restaurant and music venue, to open in The Colony in 2021," 3 Dec. 2020 Well, with the exception of Mel Brooks and Edward Albee, the sweet-and-sour of the great Broadway take-out of the 1990s, and both wiser and funnier than most anyone. Chris Jones,, "Column: Michael Riedel’s latest book ‘Singular Sensation’ is about Broadway in the ’90s — the decade when the Great White Way took on a life of its own," 25 Nov. 2020 Snow may have arrived in the Twin Ports, but this sour revived last week features boysenberry, cherry and pomegranate flavors, evoking warmer days. Star Tribune, "What to drink this week at Twin Ports breweries," 24 Nov. 2020 If the weather turns and conditions at the pad (or down-range off the Atlantic coast) sour, NASA and SpaceX are targeting Wednesday, November 18, as a backup date. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "LIVE: Watch NASA and SpaceX Launch Four Astronauts Into Space," 15 Nov. 2020 The chain has the Sparkling Pink Warrior cocktail for October made with Three Olives Raspberry Vodka, lemon sour, strawberries, and a lemon wedge, shaken with ice and topped with La Marca Prosecco. Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY, "National Taco Day 2020: Get free tacos, food deals Sunday at Taco Bell, Del Taco, Moe's and more," 2 Oct. 2020 Walsh recommends the sweet-and-sour, cayenne pepper Tiger Sauce as a classic complement to both grilled shrimp and Asian chicken wings. Emmy Favilla, CNN Underscored, "The best hot sauces you can buy online," 14 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb After all, there is no telling when the stock market will sour. Matt Phillips, New York Times, "California Is Awash in Cash, Thanks to a Booming Market," 28 Apr. 2021 With Biden in White House, Saudi relations are already on unsteady ground, and Saudi Arabia not addressing the higher oil price issue could sour relations even further. Naeem Aslam, Forbes, "Saudi Arabia Doesn’t Care About Surging Oil Prices. How High Will Oil Go?," 5 Mar. 2021 Later, some police reform activists would sour on the mayor — either for not committing to cut the city’s police budget or for not supporting their proposition on the May 1 ballot to strip the police union of its ability to negotiate contracts. Joshua Fechter, San Antonio Express-News, "'Solid as a rock': San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg is a normal guy asking for a third term," 18 Apr. 2021 Senior Republicans in Congress are eager to wage that fight, arguing that voters will sour on even popular spending provisions if they are offset by tax increases that could chill investment and economic growth. New York Times, "Voters Like Biden Infrastructure Plan; G.O.P. Still Sees an Opening on Taxes," 15 Apr. 2021 In the past, Kanye has been vocal about his desire to maintain ownership over what belongs to him, so any conversation about splitting his coins with him could potentially sour the mutual breakup. Ineye Komonibo,, "Kim Kardashian & Kanye West Cite “Irreconcilable Differences” As The Grounds For Their Divorce," 14 Apr. 2021 Weather conditions sour a bit late next week with more rain chances sliding in through the weekend. Todd Nelson, Star Tribune, "Weather Models: A Few Slushy Encounters," 11 Apr. 2021 Rinsing the butter will help remove any residual buttermilk, which contains proteins that can cause the butter to sour. Katy Severson,, "How to make butter in a food processor," 27 Mar. 2021 Weather conditions sour a bit on Sunday with clouds rolling in from the Southwest. Todd Nelson, Star Tribune, "Warm & Sunny Saturday. Somewhat Sour Monday," 12 Mar. 2021

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

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sour.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on sour

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sour

Nglish: Translation of sour for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sour for Arabic Speakers

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