\ 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

Bower and Batule said craft connoisseurs should appreciate the abundance of Upland sour beers. David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star, "Upland Fountain Square packs beer company's 'culture' into a single spot," 26 July 2019 This hot spot opened in 2013 offering a lineup of sour beer. Greg Wilson, The Mercury News, "Brewery Adventure: Peek inside Berkeley’s Rare Barrel," 23 July 2019 Festivals starring sour beers and Maryland cask ales have spread the gospel of those esoteric styles. Washington Post, "17 things to do in the D.C. area this weekend," 11 July 2019 The bar's tap list changes regularly but has included options such as Naughty Naranja, a sour beer from 1912 Brewing Company; A Slice of Hefen from La Cumbre Brewing Company; and Helton Outlaw Cerveza Lager from Arizona's own Helton Brewing Company. Lauren Saria, azcentral, "Tacos, sushi, pizza and doughnuts: 16 new restaurants that opened in metro Phoenix in June," 2 July 2019 That’s why Clear Creek head football coach Dwayne Lane might like to see the 2019 football season arrive quicker than usual to erase some of the sour memories. Ted Dunnam, Houston Chronicle, "Football preview: Clear Creek expects to generate offensive firepower," 9 Aug. 2019 The Argentine was handed the captain's armband in 2015, aged 22, following an excellent start to life at the club – but his relationship with the club has since turned sour., "Inter's Number 9: The History of the Shirt as Romelu Lukaku Takes Coveted Number," 9 Aug. 2019 Lustig says kids tend not to enjoy predominantly bitter or sour or salty foods. Time, "Is Sugar as Bad for Kids as It Is for Adults?," 1 Aug. 2019 The tiny round beans flavor many of the dishes with a hint of sour and bitter, and make the spices spicier. Flora Tsapovsky, Bon Appétit, "Meet the 24-Year-Old Owner of Eko Kitchen, San Francisco's First Nigerian Restaurant," 31 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Lovers of stouts, sours and various lighter styles will also have plenty to choose from., "7 beers we can’t wait to try at the 2019 Oregon Brewers Festival," 19 July 2019 The Raspberry Geyser sour is a refreshing pucker-up that glows like a pink rosé in the glass. Mike Sutter,, "52 Weeks of Burgers: Blue Star Brewing Co.," 5 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But the diplomatic overture quickly soured amid continuing tension in the region and Mr. Trump’s administration imposed sanctions on Mr. Zarif, drawing criticism from Mr. Paul for disrupting diplomacy. New York Times, "Iranian Official Makes Surprise Appearance on Sidelines of G7 Summit," 25 Aug. 2019 The bold move was applauded by Indians fans, many of whom were soured by the team's cost-cutting offseason when owner Paul Dolan demanded a slash in payroll, forcing Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff to make some difficult decisions. Tom Withers,, "Indians trade fiery Trevor Bauer to Reds, land Yasiel Puig in three-team deal," 31 July 2019 However, his mood quickly soured as he was given his own marching orders, to the audible disbelief of almost everyone in the stadium., "Argentina 2-1 Chile: Lionel Messi Sees Red as La Albiceleste Hang on for Third in Copa America," 7 July 2019 That is, until his nascent relationship with the New England IPA soured by way of long distance problems. Emma Simmons,, "Local homebrew clubs bring community to beer lovers," 18 June 2019 Relations quickly soured amid abysmal hotel occupancy numbers and allegations by Ithaca and other hotel unit owners of financial mismanagement or misconduct. Juan Zamorano, The Seattle Times, "Trump officials fight eviction from Panama hotel they manage," 24 Feb. 2018 Also, Iowa Republicans are souring on Donald Trump’s ethanol waivers., "The gun debate is all over the place in the Midwest: The Flyover," 22 Aug. 2019 On the other end, though, nothing sours draft-day excitement more than busting on a player selected in the first few rounds and scrambling to fill a mammoth-sized hole. Dan Falkenheim,, "NHL Fantasy Bust Candidates for 2019–20," 8 Aug. 2019 But unfortunately, no matter how much love and promise a couple starts out with, relationships can sour, and couples end up getting unhitched for a number of reasons. Samantha Lauriello,, "The 4 Most Common Reasons for Divorce, According to Research," 8 Aug. 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

27 Aug 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

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


concealment of treason or felony

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