Definition of sober in English:



  • 1Not affected by alcohol; not drunk.

    • ‘You must be relatively sober or they'll discount the act as drunken foolishness.’
    • ‘It's like watching a sober guy walk his drunk friend home; just one stumble and they both hit the sidewalk.’
    • ‘He turned out to be an abusive drunk that couldn't apologize once sober (the abuse was only verbal).’
    • ‘The rhythm is perfect for drunk morons who can't dance even when sober.’
    • ‘If you didn't know me, you'd think I was completely sober.’
    • ‘Detectives said she had consumed only a small amount of alcohol and had been sober at the end of the evening.’
    • ‘I laid in bed last night, totally sober, praying for alcohol to fall out of the sky and into my mouth.’
    • ‘People recognize me more when they're drunk than when they're sober.’
    • ‘I'm worryingly sober, despite a rather copious amount of alcohol consumed.’
    • ‘He emphasised that anyone who is knowingly drunk is not served but anyone who is sober is entitled to purchase alcohol regardless of his or her appearance or demeanour.’
    • ‘The tour was fascinating for those of us that remained sober enough to care.’
    • ‘It was a pretty good night, even if, towards the end, I (being one of the more sober people there) had to nurse a few people who had drunk a little more than they should have.’
    • ‘He wouldn't have asked even if she had been completely sober.’
    • ‘When sober, the man was one of the finest actors in the world.’
    • ‘Drunk or sober, he was driven by a manic energy and impatience that made him a difficult friend and an almost impossible husband and father.’
    • ‘I didn't even care that I had to stay sober to drive.’
    • ‘Two, Sadie's a drunk and not a very good singer, sober or otherwise.’
    • ‘Much alcohol was consumed, yet I have a ridiculously high alcohol tolerance so remained very sober.’
    • ‘Trust me, I've been around a few drunks and being sober and standing there trying to understand what they are saying is hard enough.’
    • ‘I got my bearings reasonably quickly, though, despite spending more time drunk than sober in the city centre.’
    not drunk, not intoxicated, clear-headed, as sober as a judge
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  • 2Serious, sensible, and solemn.

    ‘a sober view of life’
    ‘his expression became sober’
    • ‘If we are true to the principle that the measure of a democracy is the depth and scope of participation enjoyed by its citizens, then celebration needs to be tempered by sober reflection.’
    • ‘That brought everyone back into a serious and sober mood.’
    • ‘Thanks for your sober and clearheaded assessment of the situation and its significance.’
    • ‘In recent years, a series of very sober and real statistics have surfaced.’
    • ‘His expression was perfectly sober, and he didn't sound anything but serious.’
    • ‘Sunday mornings were solemn, and worship, although often grand and glorious, was also serious and sober.’
    • ‘With slow tempos predominating, they are sober, even solemn works, but hardly funereal, and never monotonous.’
    • ‘Instead, such a point should be one for sober and serious analysis of how we can address some of our key weaknesses and lay the foundations for future growth.’
    • ‘As long as they had known Ian, they had seen him cheerful and smiling - perhaps quiet or sober during serious moments, but always ready with a smile.’
    • ‘This resolution is sensible, it is sober, it is realistic.’
    • ‘They provide a careful, sober assessment of the biological story in all its complexity.’
    • ‘Their manifesto is sensible and sober, identifying issues that concern real people…’
    • ‘Policies have to be reformulated and alliances rebuilt in a serious, transparent and sober manner.’
    • ‘The coverage was serious, it was sober, it was comprehensive, and the press really seemed in tune with the surge of patriotism in the country.’
    • ‘These positive emotions are not at all out of place, but need to be tempered by the sober realization that the potential for injury is ever present.’
    • ‘For this he needs courage above all, and a sober, clearheaded approach to sport, to his own fame and that of others.’
    • ‘Only that kind of serious, sober, independent reporting can give the public the insights into American business it now knows it needs to learn.’
    • ‘I know this chapter was more serious and sober… but I still hope it was okay!’
    • ‘Anyone undertaking a sober assessment of our drug and alcohol laws would conclude that they are thoroughly inconsistent.’
    • ‘She's very serious and very sober and as an actor she has a lot of technique and understanding of what's she doing.’
    serious, sensible, solemn, thoughtful, grave, sombre, severe, earnest, sedate, staid, dignified, steady, level-headed, serious-minded, businesslike, down-to-earth, commonsensical, pragmatic, self-controlled, restrained, conservative
    unemotional, dispassionate
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    1. 2.1 Muted in colour.
      ‘a sober grey suit’
      • ‘He's dressed in a dark three-piece suit and a sober tie.’
      • ‘The classroom, painted in its sober colours of beige and black, is half-full.’
      • ‘Mostly they wear sober suits but on special occasions can be seen in fancy dress.’
      • ‘Kennedy, dressed in a sober grey suit, blushed as the press urged him to kiss his wife on the lips.’
      • ‘Fabrics embellished with elegant cuts, graceful falls and rich hues to gracious and sober tones are those best suited for the special occasions.’
      • ‘By adopting the sober, plain attire of the butterfly's closest relative, the former world number one was a man transformed.’
      • ‘Trouser suits and sober colours probably describe me best.’
      • ‘The uniforms may have been replaced by sober suits, but the buzzcuts and the brightly polished shoes remained.’
      • ‘In a sober dark trouser suit and sensible walking shoes, she ticks the names off the electoral list on her clipboard.’
      • ‘Observing the industrious lads is a 50-ish man in a sober wool suit.’
      • ‘A sober brick building, unpretentious in scale and design, lies modestly low among lawns at the end of a road with playing fields on either side.’
      • ‘As other women are pulling on their veils she walks past us in a plain black headscarf and a sober dark ensemble.’
      • ‘‘I think I look a bit silly,’ he said as he surveyed the more sober colours surrounding the entrance to the County Stand.’
      • ‘We go into meetings and there's me in a sober business suit, and Sarah, apologising for her outrageous T-shirt.’
      • ‘Who can resist a peek at the salaciousness seething behind the sober suits and marble halls of American government?’
      • ‘I'm later struck by how she's wearing bright red and green outfits in the cabinet photos on the wall downstairs when all the boys are in sober suits.’
      • ‘The nominee was in a sober suit with the expected white shirt and red tie.’
      • ‘The sober dark suits and flowing robes of 34 ministers and their minders have long since left for the airport.’
      • ‘Others marked the occasion with sober suits and black ties.’
      sombre, restrained, subdued, severe, austere
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  • 1Make or become sober after drinking alcohol.

    with object ‘that coffee sobered him up’
    no object ‘I ought to sober up a bit’
    • ‘When I'm not working, I go out for lavish lunches with my friends, drink too much, and spend the afternoons trying to sober up.’
    • ‘She was intending to leave him there to sober up and come back to his senses.’
    • ‘Fortunately, though, Michael also looked as if he'd sobered up a bit.’
    • ‘Many players had to sober up from a night in the French Quarter.’
    • ‘It is entirely acceptable to have a lie-down in the afternoon to sober up after lunch and prepare for more drinking at dinner.’
    • ‘If drivers are very drunk, they will be locked in the cells to sober up.’
    • ‘I began to sober down a bit and the world wasn't spinning.’
    • ‘Unfortunately ninety minutes wasn't enough to let the alcohol drain from my system - I think it must have been about 1000 before I started to sober up.’
    • ‘And that, as I start to sober up and think it might be a good idea to get to bed before I start to regret writing this and delete it before posting, is probably my point.’
    • ‘You'd have to wait till you sober up to drive OR wait for someone to drive you!’
    • ‘He was left in a cell to sober up, released Saturday morning and three hours later was arrested again with an alcohol level that usually causes loss of bladder control and unconsciousness.’
    • ‘I'm pretty sure I didn't stop for long enough to sober up.’
    • ‘Well, I had to get my beer drinking done quickly, so that I could sober up soon enough to return the van.’
    • ‘Who would she have to count on if I was sitting in a café, drinking mass amounts of coffee and trying to sober up?’
    • ‘They were lodged in cells, allowed to sober up, issued public intoxication tags and driven back to their residence.’
    • ‘Two were taken to Tauranga police station to sober up before being released.’
    • ‘Two doormen rush in to carry him out and he is duly removed, embarrassed and ashamed, left to sober up on the pavements outside the bar.’
    • ‘David defended himself, hearing the pathetic tone himself, now that he was beginning to sober up.’
    • ‘The shelter, which will be a haven for intoxicated people to sober up overnight, will share premises in Larkin Street with Geraldton Street Patrol.’
    • ‘One particular Monday morning his mates grabbed him and, after tying him to one of the sails, took him up to the top, a height of 100 ft, and left him there to sober up.’
    become sober, become clear-headed
    make sober, clear someone's head
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    1. 1.1 Make or become more serious, sensible, and solemn.
      no object ‘his expression sobered her’
      • ‘LeeAnne's expression immediately sobered up, and she excused herself to get some snacks.’
      • ‘I sobered immediately, contrite at forgetting the seriousness of the conversation.’
      • ‘The commander's approach was sufficient to sober down the concerned group, which quickly waved the white flag.’
      • ‘Once again, Jordan realized they didn't like his joke and he quickly sobered up.’
      • ‘She looked up to see his grim expression and immediately sobered.’
      • ‘Matthew began laughing mockingly before his expression sobered again.’
      • ‘Trent saw that she was seriously hurting so he abruptly sobered.’
      • ‘Jade quickly sobered as she noticed his continued lack of expression.’
      • ‘But it's still sobering reminder of the perils of war.’
      • ‘The play sobers up and offers serious moments, such as the anecdote of the Cuban immigrant's terrifying raft trip to the United States, leaving no doubt that beyond the humor there is a deep pool of thought and feeling.’
      • ‘I laughed before sobering up quickly again and faced her with a solemn expression.’
      • ‘Statistical evidence of improved output has in other cases concealed a more sobering truth.’
      • ‘If we are being urged to do anything here, it is to resist indulging too much in these reactions, to sober up a bit and contemplate the task ahead.’
      • ‘He giggled, then sobered quickly and looked suspiciously out the window.’
      • ‘His expression sobered a little, but he was still amused I could tell.’
      • ‘However, a few more sobering facts may change your opinion.’
      • ‘She giggled at that, and then sobered when she saw he was serious.’
      • ‘After the initial hype, however, users and hardware testers quickly sobered up.’
      become serious, become more serious, settle, settle down, relax, soften, steady, cool
      make serious, make more serious
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  • (as) sober as a judge

    • Completely sober.

      • ‘He could have been on an awful bender in Phuket, but if he shows up at the gate at the Air Force Base at Butterworth, sober as a judge, with respect, then that is it.’
      • ‘It's funny you guys say that... he was actually sober as a judge there.’
      • ‘I went to bed at 10:30 last night sober as a judge and slept right through to wake up at 8am this morning feeling terrible.’
      • ‘Even the Judge could afford a smile when she heard that a defendant, who gave ‘horrid abuse’ to a Garda, was ‘as sober as a judge’ when the incident occurred.’
      • ‘And eventually, that sort of thing is a bit counterproductive you see, because you had half a dozen witnesses saying that the captain was sober as a judge, whatever that may mean.’
      • ‘But on this occasion he sounded sober as a judge.’
      • ‘I was actually sober as a judge most of the time, just got bit twisted on this particular day.’
      • ‘These are the people who will be sober as a judge (surely a contradiction in terms), will not miss a thing and will remember it all in the morning.’
      • ‘It doesn't worry me now if I'm watching people getting drunk, while I'm as sober as a judge.’
      • ‘When I saw him at Yankee Stadium, he was as sober as a judge and pitched one of the greatest games of his life.’
      not drunk, not intoxicated, clear-headed, as sober as a judge
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Middle English: from Old French sobre, from Latin sobrius.