[ souuhr, sou-er ]
See synonyms for: soursouredsouringsourish on

adjective,sour·er, sour·est.
  1. having an acid taste, resembling that of vinegar, lemon juice, etc.; tart.

  2. rendered acid or affected by fermentation; fermented.

  1. producing the one of the four basic taste sensations that is not bitter, salt, or sweet.

  2. characteristic of something fermented: a sour smell.

  3. distasteful or disagreeable; unpleasant.

  4. below standard; poor: It was a sour effort all around, the kind of effort that doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

  5. harsh in spirit or temper; acrimonious; disagreeable; peevish.

  6. Agriculture. (of soil) having excessive acidity.

  7. (of gasoline or the like) contaminated by sulfur compounds.

  8. Music. off-pitch; badly produced: a sour note.

  1. something that is sour.

  2. any of various cocktails consisting typically of whiskey or gin with lemon or lime juice and sugar and sometimes soda water, often garnished with a slice of orange, a maraschino cherry, or both.

  1. any of various beers with a particularly acidic or tart taste, made so by acid-producing bacteria and yeast in the brew: Sours are a good choice to go with deep-fried bar food.

  2. an acid or an acidic substance used in laundering and bleaching to neutralize alkalis and to decompose residual soap or bleach.

verb (used without object)
  1. to become sour, rancid, mildewed, etc.; spoil: Milk sours quickly in warm weather. The laundry soured before it was ironed.

  2. to become unpleasant or strained; worsen; deteriorate: Relations between the two countries have soured.

  1. to become bitter, disillusioned, or disinterested: I guess I soured when I learned he was married.My loyalty soured after his last book.

  2. Agriculture. (of soil) to develop excessive acidity.

verb (used with object)
  1. to make sour; cause sourness in: What do they use to sour the mash?

  2. to cause spoilage in; rot: Defective cartons soured the apples.

  1. to make bitter, disillusioned, or disagreeable: One misadventure needn't have soured him. That swindle soured a great many potential investors.

Origin of sour

First recorded before 1000; Middle English adjective and noun sure, soure, Old English adjective sūr; cognate with German sauer, Dutch zuur, Old Norse sūrr

Other words for sour

Opposites for sour

Other words from sour

  • sour·ish, adjective
  • sour·ly, adverb
  • sour·ness, noun
  • o·ver·sour, adjective
  • o·ver·sour·ly, adverb
  • o·ver·sour·ness, noun
  • un·sour, adjective
  • un·sour·ly, adverb
  • un·sour·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use sour in a sentence

  • “The milk should be sour that is supped so sourly,” she said.

    The Proud Prince | Justin Huntly McCarthy
  • “You may long for death ere I have done with you,” Lycabetta whispered, sourly.

    The Proud Prince | Justin Huntly McCarthy
  • "I will stay alive so that I can bail thee out of prison," his father informed him, sourly.

    The Landloper | Holman Day
  • Through a barred window the wondering warden sourly watched the crawling, tottery figure.

    The Escape of Mr. Trimm | Irvin S. Cobb
  • "Lest he take thee for one of his runaway jackanapes," answered the steward, smiling sourly.

    The Abbot | Sir Walter Scott

British Dictionary definitions for sour (1 of 2)


/ (ˈsaʊə) /

  1. having or denoting a sharp biting taste like that of lemon juice or vinegar: Compare bitter (def. 1)

  2. made acid or bad, as in the case of milk or alcohol, by the action of microorganisms

  1. having a rancid or unwholesome smell

  2. (of a person's temperament) sullen, morose, or disagreeable

  3. (esp of the weather or climate) harsh and unpleasant

  4. disagreeable; distasteful: a sour experience

  5. (of land, etc) lacking in fertility, esp due to excessive acidity

  6. (of oil, gas, or petrol) containing a relatively large amount of sulphur compounds

  7. go sour or turn sour to become unfavourable or inharmonious: his marriage went sour

  1. something sour

  2. mainly US any of several iced drinks usually made with spirits, lemon juice, and ice: a whiskey sour

  1. an acid used in laundering and bleaching clothes or in curing animal skins

  1. to make or become sour

Origin of sour

Old English sūr; related to Old Norse sūrr, Lithuanian suras salty, Old Slavonic syrŭ wet, raw, surovu green, raw, Sanskrit surā brandy

Derived forms of sour

  • sourish, adjective
  • sourly, adverb
  • sourness, noun

British Dictionary definitions for Sour (2 of 2)


/ (sʊə) /

  1. a variant spelling of Sur

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