Definition of sour in English:



  • 1Having an acid taste like lemon or vinegar.

    ‘she sampled the wine and found it was sour’
    • ‘Symptoms of heartburn include excessive burping, pain in the chest area, acid regurgitation, a sour taste, and bad breath.’
    • ‘Sometimes, stomach acid that backs up into the esophagus can leave a sour taste in your mouth - especially when you're lying down.’
    • ‘Heartburn is a burning feeling in the lower chest, along with a sour or bitter taste in the throat and mouth.’
    • ‘I used to devour them, but now they leave such a sour taste in my mouth and the sourness irritates my insides.’
    • ‘Without getting into a lot of complicated chemistry, acids are substances that taste sour, such as vinegar or lemon juice.’
    • ‘Boyle went on to characterize acids, noting their sour or tart taste and their ability to corrode metals.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The fluffy filling combined with the sour taste was great.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Dry wines can cause unpleasant sour or even bitter tastes if served with desserts.’
    • ‘Whatever they marinated the vegetables in wasn't pleasant at all - they all had a uniformly sour taste that made them almost inedible.’
    • ‘The fruit is about two to five centimetres long and acidic in nature with a sour taste.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One of them was really really bad, with a terrible vinegar smell that unclogged your sinuses and a sour taste to match.’
    • ‘The lager and cigarettes had left a sour taste in his mouth though.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Lemons taste sour, but they make a sweet treatment for dry, rough heels, knees and elbows.’
    • ‘Low values of pH indicate high concentrations of acidity and the tart or sour taste that occurs in lemon juice, for example.’
    acid, acidy, acidic, acidulated, tart, bitter, sharp, acetic, vinegary, pungent, acrid, biting, stinging, burning, smarting, unpleasant, distasteful
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    1. 1.1 (of food, especially milk) spoiled because of fermentation.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This is the ultimate bachelor's pad, right down to the sour milk.’
      • ‘Now, unless I get it washed, it's gonna stink of sour milk forever.’
      • ‘I didn't want Maria getting all mad at me in the morning cause the milk and cream were sour.’
      • ‘Tanner pointed at my clothes which had a big white stain on them and smelled of sour milk.’
      • ‘It's like sniffing sour milk to see if it's gone off: you just have to keep going back to make sure.’
      • ‘Fermented wine was used as well as the unripe, sour juice acresta, which means acrid.’
      • ‘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
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    2. 1.2 Having a rancid smell.
      ‘her breath was always sour’
      • ‘The room filled with the sour smell of overheated electronics.’
      • ‘The inside of the bag containing the mixed candies smelled faintly of machine parts and some weird oily sour smell.’
      • ‘Aside from the faint, sour smell of blood from last night, nothing else was new.’
      • ‘The sour smell of the old milk still lingered there.’
      • ‘He answered and Elena could smell the sour stench of liquor on his breath.’
      • ‘The prisoner had known of the warder's arrival by the sour aroma that preceded him, a melange of rancid sweat and cheap tobacco.’
      • ‘It was grayish and easy to break apart; feathery to the touch and had a sour smell to it.’
      • ‘Payton could still smell the sour smoke coming from the severed wires.’
      • ‘The air was stagnant with the heavy, sour smell of beer.’
      • ‘Her lab coat billowed around her thin frame, smelling sour as she paced back and forth.’
      • ‘Lacto bacilli are heralded by the curdling of milk, other microbes simply by a sour smell to the liquid they're in.’
      • ‘Don't buy a tree that is losing green needles, or has dry, brittle twigs or a sour, musty smell.’
      • ‘Nibble on a sprig of parsley after eating raw onions or garlic or whenever your breath smells sour.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘To reawaken memories of Miller's, the neighborhood delicatessen of my childhood, I need only the smell of sour pickles in a barrel.’
      • ‘Occasionally a sour smell from his doorway made me catch my breath.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The winds have picked up a bit, swirling the sour smell of privet blossoms around me, bringing on another bout of sneezing.’
      • ‘She didn't approach the door but paced the hall, her snub nose wrinkled at the sour smell of urine and smoke.’
      • ‘It smelled of sweat, sour and rancid, and the muzzle slid against my right temple.’
  • 2Feeling or expressing resentment, disappointment, or anger.

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

    • ‘Even so, the dangers of sour gas are still visible.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Work is underway to develop a comprehensive human health and air quality monitoring system and clinical practice guidelines for sour gas exposure.’
    • ‘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.’


  • with modifier A drink made by mixing an alcoholic beverage with lemon juice or lime juice.

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


  • 1Make or become sour.

    with object ‘water soured with tamarind’
    ‘soured cream’
    no object ‘a bowl of milk was souring in the sun’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Tom recalls his mother ‘scalding’ the milk in hot weather - heating it to near boiling point to prevent souring.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Aftershocks, rain and landslides are hampering aid efforts and souring drinking water, but survivors want more from authorities.’
    • ‘People eat a wide range of dairy products, such as tvorog, a kind of cottage cheese, and riazhenka, slightly soured milk.’
    • ‘Casein is what makes up the curd that forms when milk is left to sour.’
    1. 1.1 Make or become unpleasant, acrimonious, or difficult.
      with object ‘a dispute soured relations between the two countries for over a year’
      no object ‘many friendships have soured over borrowed money’
      • ‘This can lead to a deep underlying hurt that can often sour any new relationships.’
      • ‘The break-up was extremely acrimonious and relations between them further soured as he accused her of stealing his press from the film.’
      • ‘The bad news is that French antipathy towards him is so obvious that it sours the whole occasion.’
      • ‘Or maybe Britain's reputation for politeness is long gone, replaced by a surly jobsworth attitude that slowly sours every day in this city.’
      • ‘The biggest problem is of course that it sours the investment climate.’
      • ‘The two were once friends, but their relations soured in recent years.’
      • ‘Things soured after a six-year-old girl hurt herself when the dog on guard chased her in a bid to protect its family.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘However, relations have soured dramatically in the last four weeks.’
      • ‘It simply sours the atmosphere and creates hostility and distrust.’
      • ‘Although economic and social ties between the island and the mainland have since grown, political relations have soured.’
      • ‘Relations soured after border disputes and clashes between troops followed by a war of words in which each accused the other of threatening security.’
      • ‘He succeeded but only at the cost of further souring Anglo-German relations.’
      • ‘Campbell was a dreadful choice because his controversial character had soured media relations before he'd even opened his mouth.’
      • ‘But the 22-year-old defender confessed the final result soured any celebrations he had planned.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      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 or attractive; turn out badly.

      ‘the case concerns a property deal that turned sour’
      • ‘If the deal goes sour, investors can walk away and the bank is left holding the property.’
      • ‘Then Brady picked up a leg injury when racing for possession and things began to turn sour for the men in blue.’
      • ‘But the deal starts to turn sour when a ruthless new sergeant arrives on the scene, determined to clean up the base.’
      • ‘When the relationship went sour, the plaintiff asked for her fair share of the assets based on restitution and marriage.’
      • ‘By January of this year, however, the whole deal was beginning to turn sour.’
      • ‘But later, these relationships begin to turn sour.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I would never stay in a relationship that turns sour, even if I think in the long term it might work out.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But five years ago everything began to turn sour after rogue tip operators moved in next door.’
  • 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As you have always known, Canadians are sophisticated enough politically to see through the sour grapes of criticism.’
      • ‘There were no regrets, no complaints, not even a whiff of 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.’
      • ‘However those behind the enterprise insist that it's just a case of sour grapes.’
      • ‘The reality is she's articulate and she's composed, and apparently some people tonight have sour grapes.’
      • ‘The rest of her scathing remarks are mostly sour grapes.’
      • ‘But for me to go on about it would be to criticise the referee, and it might sound like sour grapes.’


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