Definition of sour in English:

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Pronunciation: /saʊə/


1Having an acid taste like lemon or vinegar: she sampled the wine and found it was sour
More example sentences
  • Without getting into a lot of complicated chemistry, acids are substances that taste sour, such as vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Symptoms of heartburn include excessive burping, pain in the chest area, acid regurgitation, a sour taste, and bad breath.
  • The sour taste of a lemon cannot be distinguished from that of vinegar, yet when you proceed to open your nose and inhale, you can sense the specific flavor of lemon.
acid, acidy, acidic, acidulated, tart, bitter, sharp, acetic, vinegary, pungent, acrid, biting, stinging, burning, smarting, unpleasant, distasteful;
North American  acerb
technical acerbic
rare acidulous
1.1(Of food, especially milk) having gone bad because of fermentation: the kitchen smelled of sour milk
More example sentences
  • I didn't want Maria getting all mad at me in the morning cause the milk and cream were sour.
  • Now, unless I get it washed, it's gonna stink of sour milk forever.
  • This is the ultimate bachelor's pad, right down to the sour milk.
(gone) bad, (gone) off, turned, curdled, fermented, rancid;
old, tainted, high, rank, foul, fetid, overripe;
North American  clabbered
1.2Having a rancid smell: her breath was always sour
More example sentences
  • The winds have picked up a bit, swirling the sour smell of privet blossoms around me, bringing on another bout of sneezing.
  • Occasionally a sour smell from his doorway made me catch my breath.
  • To reawaken memories of Miller's, the neighborhood delicatessen of my childhood, I need only the smell of sour pickles in a barrel.
2Feeling or expressing resentment, disappointment, or anger: he gave her a sour look the meeting ended on a sour note
More example sentences
  • Getting nervous that the year is about to end on a sour note, housebuilders make a last-minute bid to entice visitors to show homes and offer incentives.
  • The fee struck a sour note with some supporters, particularly given the strong tradition of free festival entertainment.
  • On a sour note, however, a small minority are intent on putting the future of the lake in jeopardy by their illegal actions.
embittered, resentful, nasty, spiteful, sharp-tongued, irritable, irascible, peevish, fractious, fretful, cross, crabbed, crabby, crotchety, cantankerous, curmudgeonly, disagreeable, petulant, pettish;
complaining, querulous, bitter, moody, grumpy, huffy, scratchy, bad-tempered, ill-tempered, ill-natured, ill-humoured, sullen, surly, sulky, churlish, touchy, testy, tetchy, snappish, waspish, crusty, bilious, liverish, dyspeptic, splenetic, choleric
informal snappy, chippy, grouchy, cranky, whingeing, whingy
British informal narky, ratty, eggy, stroppy, shirty
North American informal peckish, sorehead, soreheaded
Australian/New Zealand informal snaky
informal, dated miffy, waxy
3(Of soil) deficient in lime and usually dank.
Example sentences
  • Our soil is on the sour side and lays wet in spots, as the old-timers say.
  • Direct chopping and ensiling this wet corn can cause heavy seepage and a sour silage.
4(Of petroleum or natural gas) containing a relatively high proportion of sulphur.
Example sentences
  • This risked individuals working on the platform being exposed to the toxic gas, hydrogen sulphide and excessive quantities of sour gas being allowed into the atmosphere.
  • When a sour gas well is ignited, hydrogen sulphide is transformed into sulphur dioxide, which is less immediately dangerous, but still toxic.
  • Work is underway to develop a comprehensive human health and air quality monitoring system and clinical practice guidelines for sour gas exposure.


[with modifier]
A drink made by mixing a spirit with lemon or lime juice: a rum sour
More example sentences
  • A locally famous drink is the anise seed based raki, and brandy sour is another favorite with the Turkish Cypriots.
  • A favorite drink is pisco sour, in which pisco is served with lemon juice, sugar, beaten egg whites, and ice.
  • She took a drink of her vodka sour, then looked out over the club, her eyes widening.


1Make or become sour: [with object]: water soured with tamarind (as adjective soured) soured cream
More example sentences
  • Aftershocks, rain and landslides are hampering aid efforts and souring drinking water, but survivors want more from authorities.
  • Smetana had to be made immediately before use, since it took only a few hours for the bacteria in the sour cream to sour the fresh cream completely.
  • Good though the matching of crumbly, flaking croissant with hot sticky apples and cold, slightly soured cream is, you may want to gild the lily.
1.1Make or become unpleasant, acrimonious, or difficult: [with object]: a dispute soured relations between the two countries [no object]: many friendships have soured over borrowed money
More example sentences
  • Relations soured after border disputes and clashes between troops followed by a war of words in which each accused the other of threatening security.
  • The break-up was extremely acrimonious and relations between them further soured as he accused her of stealing his press from the film.
  • The two were once friends, but their relations soured in recent years.
embitter, make bitter, make resentful, anger, exasperate, disillusion, disenchant, poison, envenom, disaffect, dissatisfy, frustrate, alienate
spoil, mar, damage, harm, impair, be detrimental to, wreck, upset, hurt, worsen, poison, colour, blight, tarnish



go (or turn) sour

Become less pleasant; turn out badly: their relationship began to turn sour
More example sentences
  • By January of this year, however, the whole deal was beginning to turn sour.
  • But later, these relationships begin to turn sour.
  • But what initially seems to be the ultimate lucky escape turns sour when the survivors begin to die, one by one, in gruesome and unexpected ways.

sour grapes

Pronunciation: /ˌsaʊə ˈɡreɪps/
Used to refer to an attitude in which someone adopts a negative attitude to something because they cannot have it themselves: government officials dismissed many of the complaints as sour grapes
With allusion to Aesop's fable The Fox and the Grapes
More example sentences
  • There were no regrets, no complaints, not even a whiff of sour grapes.
  • The ones who are honest have had to watch the cheats claiming medals and any complaint is made to look like sour grapes.
  • The reality is she's articulate and she's composed, and apparently some people tonight have sour grapes.



Pronunciation: /ˈsaʊərɪʃ/
Example sentences
  • White rice will come out greenish and have a sourish aftertaste; black rice should produce a juicy tapé.
  • You can substitute the redcurrants with some other sourish fruits available.
  • The fruit is globose, red, sourish, not bitter.


Pronunciation: /ˈsaʊəli/
Example sentences
  • Some are gushingly optimistic and others sourly skeptical, but most acknowledge that it is exciting to be an Indian today.
  • A few will linger sourly on the back benches, living with their grudges while adding to their parliamentary pensions.
  • Dumas's novel mixes operatic themes with the odd sourly realistic vignette.


Pronunciation: /ˈsaʊənəs/
Example sentences
  • Earlier, astringency had been considered as one of the primary taste sensations, like sweetness, sourness, and particularly bitterness with which it has often been confused.
  • It is essential to use the best-quality ingredients for this starter, as the bitterness of a good extra-virgin olive oil and the sourness of the lemon juice bring out the sweet flavour in the fennel.
  • In traditional Chinese medicine, the pulp and juice of the pomelo, which taste sweet with a hint of sourness, are good for the throat, stomach and spleen.


Old English sūr, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zuur and German sauer.

Words that rhyme with sour

bower, cower, devour, dower, embower, empower, endower, flour, flower, gaur, Glendower, glower, hour, lour, lower, our, plougher (US plower), power, scour, shower, Stour, sweet-and-sour, tower

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: sour

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