\ 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
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 Check the butter for signs of spoiling, including darkening, a foul odor, and/or a sour taste. Jennifer Blair, chicagotribune.com, "The best butter dish," 22 Dec. 2020 The oil industry just got a sour taste of a world that didn’t need its products as much anymore. Washington Post, "Biden wants to make the climate fight central to his presidency. What do big oil and gas firms think about that?," 22 Dec. 2020 Mae Pranom Thai Chili Paste, essential for making Tom Yam Kung (hot-and-sour prawn soup), $10 at Amazon. Dallas News, "30+ holiday gift ideas for every Texas cook," 4 Dec. 2020 Many of his advisers served in government during the Obama Administration and were left with a sour taste for Russia from Putin’s behavior on their watch, from the annexation of Crimea to interference in the 2016 election. Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker, "The Kremlin Prepares for a Biden Presidency," 13 Nov. 2020 He is credited with developing the small red fruit, which had at the time a sour taste, into one that was larger and sweeter. cleveland, "Some Ohio bars, restaurants, gyms promise to sue if they’re closed again: Capitol Letter," 13 Nov. 2020 During his fourth start of the year, goalkeeper Brian Rowe said the end of the match left a sour taste in the mouths of every player on the pitch. Julia Poe, orlandosentinel.com, "Orlando City focused on closing strong after late-game loss," 10 Nov. 2020 The sour taste from last season is being replaced by something far sweeter for Northwestern. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, "Nebraska-Northwestern live stream (11/7): How to watch college football online, TV, time," 7 Nov. 2020 Peking duck, potstickers and hot and sour soup among them. Soleil Ho, SFChronicle.com, "Fresh blood at Bon Appetit: What’s next after a year of racial tumult?," 2 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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, chicagotribune.com, "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 Eastern island cuisine is much spicier and more chile-based, whereas the western island’s food is more sweet-and-sour. Xavier Cousens, WSJ, "Readers’ Favorite Summer Recipes," 4 Sep. 2020 For fans, the allure of a sour comes in its uniquely tangy aroma and taste. Ryan Prior, CNN, "Sour beer: The chemistry behind this wondrously complex craft brew," 18 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb And there’s nothing to say that a bad experience will necessarily sour new outdoorspeople on nature. oregonlive, "Rise of the rookie hikers: The pandemic pushed a new wave of people outside, for better or worse," 29 Dec. 2020 On Wednesday, Mayor London Breed ordered all city departments to propose cuts that would trim budgets by 7.5% The departments will also have to identify another 2.5% worth of cuts in case the economy continues to sour. Trisha Thadani, SFChronicle.com, "Mayor Breed gives S.F. departments specifics on how much to cut as city grapples with massive deficit," 16 Dec. 2020 And while Herman does have a 10-win season and Sugar Bowl victory under his belt, the team’s failure to live up to expectations since then caused both fans and, more importantly, boosters to sour on Meyer’s former Buckeye offensive coordinator. Nick Moyle, ExpressNews.com, "Report: Urban Meyer not coming out of retirement to coach Texas," 7 Dec. 2020 The reports contend, among other things, that: Trump began to sour on Flynn during the transition for bringing bad press. Jamie Mcintyre, Washington Examiner, "Congress calls Trump’s bluff on veto threat for defense policy bill," 3 Dec. 2020 Paleontologists were furious about the staggering price, concerned that scientists’ relationship with U.S. landowners would sour and global fossil poaching would increase. Michael Greshko, National Geographic, "'Dueling Dinosaurs' fossil, hidden from science for 14 years, could finally reveal its secrets," 17 Nov. 2020 Fast-food work is stressful: chronic understaffing, hot grease, time clocks monitoring your breaks, enough unkind customers to sour a whole night. Richard Renaldi, The New Yorker, "Faces of a Fast-Food Nation," 23 Nov. 2020 The relationship between rap and Trump began to sour after Trump launched his political career by using the racist birther conspiracy to attack President Barack Obama, a man who by then had surpassed Trump as a hip-hop icon. Washington Post, "Some famous rappers backed Trump’s campaign. Did it matter?," 20 Nov. 2020 The Trump team's mood continued to sour as late counting gave Biden wins in Wisconsin and Michigan. David Jackson, USA TODAY, "Donald Trump's aides are increasingly gloomy – and mad at other GOP officials," 6 Nov. 2020

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

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sour.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sour. Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for sour

How to pronounce sour (audio)

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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Comments on sour

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