[souuh r-doh, sou-er-]


leaven, especially fermented dough retained from one baking and used, rather than fresh yeast, to start the next.
a prospector or pioneer, especially in Alaska or Canada.
any longtime resident, especially in Alaska or Canada.


leavened with sourdough: sourdough bread.

Origin of sourdough

Middle English word dating back to 1275–1325; see origin at sour, dough Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sourdough

Contemporary Examples of sourdough

Historical Examples of sourdough

  • It is somewhat in the vein of "Sourdough" Service, the Yukon bard.

    Ballads of a Bohemian

    Robert W. Service

  • I bought a copy of the "Nugget" and went into the Sourdough Restaurant to read it.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

  • So excuse the errors of a sourdough, keep track of me I want to talk to you later.

    Black Beaver

    James Campbell Lewis

  • You're a sourdough, all right, I knew that the minute I saw you.

  • On the northeastern slope, on the shoulders of Sourdough Mountains.

British Dictionary definitions for sourdough



dialect (of bread) made with fermented dough used as a leaven


(in Western US, Canada, and Alaska) an old-time prospector or pioneer
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

Word Origin and History for sourdough

early 14c., "leavened bread," also "leaven" (late 14c.), from sour (adj.) + dough. Meaning "fermented dough" is from 1868. The meaning "Arctic prospector or pioneer" is from 1898 Yukon gold rush, from the practice of saving a lump of fermented dough as leaven for raising bread baked during the winter.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper