\ 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 Australia have similarly not hosted Bangladesh since 2003 and scrapped last year’s one-off Perth Test against Afghanistan all too easily leaving a sour taste for Afghanistan cricket officials. Tristan Lavalette, Forbes, "Zimbabwe Hope To Play A One-Off Test Cricket Match In Australia This Year," 6 Apr. 2021 Elliot's departure in season 12 left a sour taste in many fans' mouths, especially considering that the character had been on the series for 12 years. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Christopher Meloni Reveals the Real Reason He Left 'Law and Order: SVU' 10 Years Ago," 2 Apr. 2021 Items include shrimp tacos; tilapia with mango sweet and sour sauce; shrimp aguachile; and grilled octopus. Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas News, "12 new restaurants — tacos, coffee, steak — in Dallas-Fort Worth in March 2021," 25 Mar. 2021 The air is redolent with the sweet and sour odors of the various pot strains. Mark Pazniokas,, "As Connecticut edges closer to legalizing recreational marijuana, pot growers are ready to do business," 22 Feb. 2021 Each serving consists of 1 cup sweet and sour chicken over 1/2 cup brown rice. Darlene Zimmerman, Detroit Free Press, "You can cut fat, calories from sweet and sour chicken by preparing it like a stir-fry," 20 Feb. 2021 This apple has more than just a racy name and a sweet-and-sour taste: It's got a good backstory. Connie Nelson, Star Tribune, "Newest Minnesota-made apple may not be a star, but it's a game changer," 17 Feb. 2021 Our Zone’s menu offers a few items for diners seeking American Chinese fare — sweet and sour spare ribs, lo mein. Globe Staff,, "3 restaurants we supported this week," 9 Feb. 2021 Beef back ribs prove another excellent holiday entree, glazed and roasted then served on a pile of sweet and sour red cabbage., "What to make, buy, eat and drink for Christmas," 22 Dec. 2020 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 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 No reason to sour the best individual night of his bright career, scoring 26 points on 11-of-11 shooting, with a salacious headline. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Do Cleveland Cavaliers have answers to fix their problems? ‘Nobody is coming to rescue us’," 22 Feb. 2021 Those restrictions, combined with dropping the case against Cienfuegos and suggesting the DEA made up the case against Mexico's former defense secretary, could sour the security relationship for the Biden administration, experts say. Christopher Sherman And Mark Stevenson, Star Tribune, "Mexico says US 'fabricated' charges, releases evidence," 15 Jan. 2021 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,, "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,, "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

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

11 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sour.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 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

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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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