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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English sour, from Old English sūr (sour), from Proto-Germanic *sūraz (sour), from Proto-Indo-European *sūr- (sour (milk)). Cognate with West Frisian soer, Dutch zuur (sour), Low German suur, German sauer (sour), Danish and Swedish sur (sour), French sur (sour), Icelandic súr (sour, bitter).



sour (comparative sourer, superlative sourest)

  1. Having an acidic, sharp or tangy taste.
    Lemons have a sour taste.
    • Francis Bacon
      All sour things, as vinegar, provoke appetite.
  2. Made rancid by fermentation, etc.
  3. Tasting or smelling rancid.
  4. Peevish or bad-tempered.
    He gave me a sour look.
    • Shakespeare
      He was a scholar [] / Lofty and sour to them that loved him not, / But to those men that sought him sweet as summer.
  5. (of soil) Excessively acidic and thus infertile.
    sour land
    a sour marsh
  6. (of petroleum) Containing excess sulfur.
  7. Unfortunate or unfavorable.
    • Shakespeare
      sour adversity
    • 2011 October 1, Phil Dawkes, “Sunderland 2 - 2 West Brom”, BBC Sport:
      The result may not quite give the Wearsiders a sweet ending to what has been a sour week, following allegations of sexual assault and drug possession against defender Titus Bramble, but it does at least demonstrate that their spirit remains strong in the face of adversity.


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sour (countable and uncountable, plural sours)

  1. The sensation of a sour taste.
  2. A drink made with whiskey, lemon or lime juice and sugar.
  3. (by extension) Any cocktail containing lemon or lime juice.
  4. A sour or acid substance; whatever produces a painful effect.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Edmund Spenser to this entry?)

Derived terms[edit]



sour (third-person singular simple present sours, present participle souring, simple past and past participle soured)

  1. (transitive) To make sour.
    Too much lemon juice will sour the recipe.
  2. (intransitive) To become sour.
    • Jonathan Swift
      So the sun's heat, with different powers, / Ripens the grape, the liquor sours.
  3. (transitive) To make disenchanted.
    • Shakespeare
      To sour your happiness I must report, / The queen is dead.
  4. (intransitive) To become disenchanted.
    We broke up after our relationship soured.
  5. (transitive) To make (soil) cold and unproductive.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Mortimer to this entry?)
  6. To macerate (lime) and render it fit for plaster or mortar.




Alternative forms[edit]

  • (Rumantsch Grischun, Sursilvan, Sutsilvan, Surmiran) sora


From Latin soror, from Proto-Indo-European *swésōr.


sour f (plural sours)

  1. (Puter, Vallader) sister

Coordinate terms[edit]

  • (in terms of gender):
    • (Rumantsch Grischun, Sursilvan, Sutsilvan, Surmiran, Vallader) frar
    • (Puter) frer