[ soh-ber ]
See synonyms for: sobersoberedsoberingsobers on

adjective,so·ber·er, so·ber·est.
  1. not intoxicated or drunk.

  2. habitually temperate, especially in the use of liquor.

  1. quiet or sedate in demeanor, as persons.

  2. marked by seriousness, gravity, solemnity, etc., as of demeanor, speech, etc.: a sober occasion.

  3. subdued in tone, as color; not colorful or showy, as clothes.

  4. free from excess, extravagance, or exaggeration: sober facts.

  5. showing self-control: sober restraint.

  6. sane or rational: a sober solution to the problem.

verb (used with or without object)
  1. to make or become sober: (often followed by up).

Origin of sober

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English sobre, from Old French, from Latin sōbrius

synonym study For sober

4. See grave2.

word story For sober

English sober comes from Middle English sobre, sober(e), sobor, from Old French sobre, from Latin sōbrius “sober (not intoxicated), in possession of one’s faculties, staid and sensible in behavior.” Sōbrius appears to be a compound of the preposition and prefix sē, sē- “apart, aside, by oneself” and the adjective ēbrius “drunk, intoxicated” (the derivative adjective ēbriōsus means “addicted to alcohol, alcoholic”). The adjective sōbrius therefore means “not drunk,” which is an odd way of looking at things, as if sobriety were the unusual condition and drunkenness the normal.
Ēbrius ultimately derives from the Proto-Indo-European root egwh- “to drink” (the consonant gwh regularly becomes b in Latin and ph in Greek). The Latin suffix -ri- added to egwh- yields the stem for the adjective ēbrius. In Greek, the root egwh- is prefixed by the negative particle ne-, becoming first nēgwh and then nēph-, the stem of the Greek verb nḗphein “to be sober.”

Other words for sober

Opposites for sober

Other words from sober

  • so·ber·ly, adverb
  • so·ber·ness, noun
  • non·so·ber, adjective
  • non·so·ber·ly, adverb
  • non·so·ber·ness, noun
  • qua·si-so·ber, adjective
  • qua·si-so·ber·ly, adverb
  • un·so·ber, adjective
  • un·so·ber·ly, adverb
  • un·so·ber·ness, noun
  • un·so·bered, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use sober in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sober


/ (ˈsəʊbə) /

  1. not drunk

  2. not given to excessive indulgence in drink or any other activity

  1. sedate and rational: a sober attitude to a problem

  2. (of colours) plain and dull or subdued

  3. free from exaggeration or speculation: he told us the sober truth

  1. (usually foll by up) to make or become less intoxicated, reckless, etc

Origin of sober

C14 sobre, from Old French, from Latin sōbrius

Derived forms of sober

  • sobering, adjective
  • soberingly, adverb
  • soberly, adverb
  • soberness, noun

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012