Definition of sour in English:



  • 1Having an acid taste like lemon or vinegar.

    ‘she sampled the wine and found it was sour’
    • ‘Without getting into a lot of complicated chemistry, acids are substances that taste sour, such as vinegar or lemon juice.’
    • ‘Low values of pH indicate high concentrations of acidity and the tart or sour taste that occurs in lemon juice, for example.’
    • ‘One of them was really really bad, with a terrible vinegar smell that unclogged your sinuses and a sour taste to match.’
    • ‘Sometimes, stomach acid that backs up into the esophagus can leave a sour taste in your mouth - especially when you're lying down.’
    • ‘The lager and cigarettes had left a sour taste in his mouth though.’
    • ‘I used to devour them, but now they leave such a sour taste in my mouth and the sourness irritates my insides.’
    • ‘Whatever they marinated the vegetables in wasn't pleasant at all - they all had a uniformly sour taste that made them almost inedible.’
    • ‘The fluffy filling combined with the sour taste was great.’
    • ‘Symptoms of heartburn include excessive burping, pain in the chest area, acid regurgitation, a sour taste, and bad breath.’
    • ‘His eyes are gritty; there is a sour taste in his mouth, his heart is beating unpleasantly fast, and there is a roaring in his ears.’
    • ‘Dry wines can cause unpleasant sour or even bitter tastes if served with desserts.’
    • ‘The fruit is about two to five centimetres long and acidic in nature with a sour taste.’
    • ‘Mukheit is toxic and needs to be soaked in water for three days before it is edible; although it has a sour taste, it contains about a third of the calories of grain.’
    • ‘The result was a mediocre dessert which was saved from being unpleasantly dry, but which still left an unnecessarily sour taste in the mouth.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Heartburn is a burning feeling in the lower chest, along with a sour or bitter taste in the throat and mouth.’
    • ‘Boyle went on to characterize acids, noting their sour or tart taste and their ability to corrode metals.’
    • ‘Lemons taste sour, but they make a sweet treatment for dry, rough heels, knees and elbows.’
    • ‘And so I do a double taste test to see if it's the tonic water or the lemons that's making the drink taste really sour, since it surely can't be the gin.’
    • ‘A lot of the disinfectants were iodine based and would have a very sour bitter taste; birds, he believes, would not drink such a foul tasting substance.’
    acid, acidy, acidic, acidulated, tart, bitter, sharp, acetic, vinegary, pungent, acrid, biting, stinging, burning, smarting, unpleasant, distasteful
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of food, especially milk) having gone bad because of fermentation.
      ‘the kitchen smelled of sour milk’
      • ‘The grocery store always had a heavy odor of cheese and sour milk, and the dark linoleum floor near the dairy case was always wet and slippery.’
      • ‘Now, unless I get it washed, it's gonna stink of sour milk forever.’
      • ‘It's like sniffing sour milk to see if it's gone off: you just have to keep going back to make sure.’
      • ‘Tanner pointed at my clothes which had a big white stain on them and smelled of sour milk.’
      • ‘The fridge held a bottle of sour milk, half a bottle of sauce and a couple of bottles of beer.’
      • ‘The food should not be moistened because it turns rancid or sour.’
      • ‘Fermented wine was used as well as the unripe, sour juice acresta, which means acrid.’
      • ‘I didn't want Maria getting all mad at me in the morning cause the milk and cream were sour.’
      • ‘This is the ultimate bachelor's pad, right down to the sour milk.’
      • ‘He reeked of sour milk and unwashed filth and I felt my stomach lurch at the stench.’
      bad, gone bad, off, gone off, turned, curdled, fermented, rancid
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Having a rancid smell.
      ‘her breath was always sour’
      • ‘The inside of the bag containing the mixed candies smelled faintly of machine parts and some weird oily sour smell.’
      • ‘Don't buy a tree that is losing green needles, or has dry, brittle twigs or a sour, musty smell.’
      • ‘Lacto bacilli are heralded by the curdling of milk, other microbes simply by a sour smell to the liquid they're in.’
      • ‘He answered and Elena could smell the sour stench of liquor on his breath.’
      • ‘Aside from the faint, sour smell of blood from last night, nothing else was new.’
      • ‘The winds have picked up a bit, swirling the sour smell of privet blossoms around me, bringing on another bout of sneezing.’
      • ‘A scent is no longer fresh if it smells sour or winy, gives off a distinctive alcohol aroma or no longer smells like it originally did.’
      • ‘It smelled of sweat, sour and rancid, and the muzzle slid against my right temple.’
      • ‘A musty aroma of hunter's stew filled her nostrils, and the sour smell of soggy, rotten straw was almost unbearable all of a sudden.’
      • ‘To reawaken memories of Miller's, the neighborhood delicatessen of my childhood, I need only the smell of sour pickles in a barrel.’
      • ‘Her lab coat billowed around her thin frame, smelling sour as she paced back and forth.’
      • ‘The room filled with the sour smell of overheated electronics.’
      • ‘Occasionally a sour smell from his doorway made me catch my breath.’
      • ‘She didn't approach the door but paced the hall, her snub nose wrinkled at the sour smell of urine and smoke.’
      • ‘Payton could still smell the sour smoke coming from the severed wires.’
      • ‘Nibble on a sprig of parsley after eating raw onions or garlic or whenever your breath smells sour.’
      • ‘It was grayish and easy to break apart; feathery to the touch and had a sour smell to it.’
      • ‘The sour smell of the old milk still lingered there.’
      • ‘The air was stagnant with the heavy, sour smell of beer.’
      • ‘The prisoner had known of the warder's arrival by the sour aroma that preceded him, a melange of rancid sweat and cheap tobacco.’
  • 2Feeling or expressing resentment, disappointment, or anger.

    ‘he gave her a sour look’
    ‘the meeting ended on a sour note’
    • ‘Another American novel finished my recreational reading for the summer on something of a sour note.’
    • ‘I crossed my arms over my chest giving him an extremely sour look.’
    • ‘We'd survived two months without cross words, so it would've been a shame to end things on a sour note.’
    • ‘She smiled, then her face turned very sour.’
    • ‘It was on returning to the car that the only sour note of the day was struck, resoundingly.’
    • ‘The fee struck a sour note with some supporters, particularly given the strong tradition of free festival entertainment.’
    • ‘Celia made a sour face showing disgust towards Mrs. Larson.’
    • ‘On a sour note, however, a small minority are intent on putting the future of the lake in jeopardy by their illegal actions.’
    • ‘Handshakes then turned to fisticuffs after the final hooter to end a miserable day on an even more sour note.’
    • ‘Lord George's voice had turned slightly sour.’
    • ‘After just getting out of detention, he was in a pretty sour mood.’
    • ‘My mom shot him an extremely sour look.’
    • ‘The Easter long weekend may end on a sour note for some commuters who use public transit.’
    • ‘The book also ends on a sour note, which is to say it doesn't go quite as far as it should.’
    • ‘First off, if your dad's in sour mood, give him space.’
    • ‘On the home front, the year began so brightly for Waterford United but ended on a very sour note.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘So as not to end this on an entirely sour note, there have been films worth looking forward to this season.’
    • ‘"Yeah, whatever, " I replied, suddenly in a sour mood.’
    • ‘How could someone so sour look so lovely in sleep?’
    embittered, resentful, nasty, spiteful, sharp-tongued, irritable, irascible, peevish, fractious, fretful, cross, crabbed, crabby, crotchety, cantankerous, curmudgeonly, disagreeable, petulant, pettish
    View synonyms
  • 3(of soil) deficient in lime and usually dank.

    • ‘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.

    • ‘Work is underway to develop a comprehensive human health and air quality monitoring system and clinical practice guidelines for sour gas exposure.’
    • ‘Even so, the dangers of sour gas are still visible.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You become an activist when your dog is impounded, or a freeway is built past your house, or your child gets a disease because of pollution or sour gas.’


  • with modifier A drink made by mixing a spirit with lemon or lime juice.

    ‘a rum sour’
    • ‘Cesar da Silva, the bar manager, mixes the best whisky sours in the world.’
    • ‘My favorite drinks are Malibu pineapple and Amaretto sours - I can't drink strong drinks.’
    • ‘They are chilling out in Cyprus and will get back sometime this week once they've taken their fill of brandy sours.’
    • ‘The waitress brought the whiskey sour and Kat took a long drink out of it.’
    • ‘She took a drink of her vodka sour, then looked out over the club, her eyes widening.’
    • ‘In Chile pisco is drunk as a liqueur after meals but a pisco sour, sometimes sold in bottled, pre-mixed form, can make a refreshing aperitif.’
    • ‘A favorite drink is pisco sour, in which pisco is served with lemon juice, sugar, beaten egg whites, and ice.’
    • ‘The whiskey/amaretto sours are the best in the city.’
    • ‘I just loved the place, atmosphere & the whiskey sours.’
    • ‘I'll be watching y'all with an amaretto sour in one hand and a remote control in the other.’
    • ‘A locally famous drink is the anise seed based raki, and brandy sour is another favorite with the Turkish Cypriots.’
    • ‘I learned how to make a wild berry mojito, a caipirinha, a pisco sour and a watermelon margarita.’
    • ‘This is the place to spot the label-clad lovelies sipping their brandy sours, often accompanied by half of the racing drivers on the Formula One circuit.’
    • ‘I sit drinking a pisco sour at a street café behind the cathedral watching people hurrying along the busy street.’
    • ‘Suffice it to say, there are times when retro music and amaretto sours are just more important than tv.’


  • 1Make or become sour.

    with object ‘water soured with tamarind’
    ‘soured cream’
    • ‘This is how milk is soured; live yoghurt is beneficial despite being a dairy food, because fermentation has altered the character of the milk solids.’
    • ‘People eat a wide range of dairy products, such as tvorog, a kind of cottage cheese, and riazhenka, slightly soured milk.’
    • ‘It's an uncomfortable proximity, compounded by Greenlaw's evocations of unbearable heat, of cream cakes souring as soon as they're baked, of days that stagnate under the oppressive sun and of nights spent twisting and turning.’
    • ‘Casein is what makes up the curd that forms when milk is left to sour.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Dairy products, especially soured milk, were reserved for children.’
    • ‘Aftershocks, rain and landslides are hampering aid efforts and souring drinking water, but survivors want more from authorities.’
    • ‘As the figures show, whole cow's milk is definitely not for everyone, at least not unless the milk is soured or fermented.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Tom recalls his mother ‘scalding’ the milk in hot weather - heating it to near boiling point to prevent souring.’
    1. 1.1 Make 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’
      • ‘The biggest problem is of course that it sours the investment climate.’
      • ‘He succeeded but only at the cost of further souring Anglo-German relations.’
      • ‘The bad news is that French antipathy towards him is so obvious that it sours the whole occasion.’
      • ‘The spy plane crisis further soured relations.’
      • ‘The row threatens to sour relations between Prague and Washington.’
      • ‘Some feel the country's reputation for generosity has been spoiled and community sentiment permanently soured.’
      • ‘The two were once friends, but their relations soured in recent years.’
      • ‘Even there on the dance floor with everyone copying our thirty-year-old spins and wring-the-dishrag moves, I couldn't stop sober thoughts like this from souring the moment.’
      • ‘Campbell was a dreadful choice because his controversial character had soured media relations before he'd even opened his mouth.’
      • ‘It simply sours the atmosphere and creates hostility and distrust.’
      • ‘Relations soured after border disputes and clashes between troops followed by a war of words in which each accused the other of threatening security.’
      • ‘Although economic and social ties between the island and the mainland have since grown, political relations have soured.’
      • ‘Australia and New Zealand renew their fierce rivalry today with the fallout from one of the darkest moments in cricket still souring their relations.’
      • ‘The break-up was extremely acrimonious and relations between them further soured as he accused her of stealing his press from the film.’
      • ‘Or maybe Britain's reputation for politeness is long gone, replaced by a surly jobsworth attitude that slowly sours every day in this city.’
      • ‘Things soured after a six-year-old girl hurt herself when the dog on guard chased her in a bid to protect its family.’
      • ‘Anti-social behaviour can sour every aspect of a person's life, spoiling the peace in what should be the ultimate sanctuary of their own home.’
      • ‘This can lead to a deep underlying hurt that can often sour any new relationships.’
      • ‘But the 22-year-old defender confessed the final result soured any celebrations he had planned.’
      • ‘However, relations have soured dramatically in the last four weeks.’
      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
      View synonyms


  • go (or turn) sour

    • Become less pleasant; turn out badly.

      ‘their relationship began to turn sour’
      • ‘If the deal goes sour, investors can walk away and the bank is left holding the property.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘By January of this year, however, the whole deal was beginning to turn sour.’
      • ‘But five years ago everything began to turn sour after rogue tip operators moved in next door.’
      • ‘Then Brady picked up a leg injury when racing for possession and things began to turn sour for the men in blue.’
      • ‘When the relationship went sour, the plaintiff asked for her fair share of the assets based on restitution and marriage.’
      • ‘He says that within days of arriving he was kidnapped and threatened at gunpoint, after associates claimed they were owed money from a deal that turned sour.’
      • ‘But the deal starts to turn sour when a ruthless new sergeant arrives on the scene, determined to clean up the base.’
      • ‘I would never stay in a relationship that turns sour, even if I think in the long term it might work out.’
  • sour grapes

    • 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’
      • ‘The views of the objectors are obviously tinged with disappointment but should not be dismissed as sour grapes.’
      • ‘As you have always known, Canadians are sophisticated enough politically to see through the sour grapes of criticism.’
      • ‘But for me to go on about it would be to criticise the referee, and it might sound like sour grapes.’
      • ‘However those behind the enterprise insist that it's just a case of sour grapes.’
      • ‘Can anyone really believe that review is anything but 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.’
      • ‘Let's keep the sour grapes to a minimum and recognise that perhaps this was a relationship which was getting too comfortable and that some of us were ready for a change anyway.’
      • ‘There were no regrets, no complaints, not even a whiff of sour grapes.’
      • ‘The rest of her scathing remarks are mostly sour grapes.’


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