from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Not intoxicated or affected by the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • adjective Abstaining from or habitually abstemious in the use of alcoholic drink or other intoxicants.
  • adjective Straightforward and serious; not exaggerated, emotional, or silly.
  • adjective Serious or staid in character or conduct: synonym: serious.
  • adjective Plain or subdued, as in decoration.
  • transitive & intransitive verb To make or become sober.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Free from the influence of intoxicating liquors; not drunk; unintoxicated.
  • Habitually temperate in the use of liquor; not given to the use of strong or much drink.
  • Temperate in general character or habit; free from excess; avoiding extremes; moderate.
  • Guided or tempered by reason; rational; sensible; sane; sound; dispassionate; commonplace.
  • Free from violence or tumult: serene; calm; tranquil; self-controlled.
  • Modest; demure; sedate; staid; dignified; serious; grave; solemn.
  • Plain or simple in color; somber; dull.
  • Little; small; mean; poor; weak.
  • = Syn. 3–5. Cool, collected, unimpassioned, steady, staid, somber. Sober differs from the words compared under grave in expressing the absence of exhilaration or excitement, whether physical, mental, or spiritual, whether beneficial or harmful.
  • To make sober; free from intoxication.
  • To mitigate; assuage; soften; restrain.
  • To make serious, grave, or sad: often followed by down.
  • To become sober, in any sense of the word.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To become sober; -- often with down.
  • adjective Temperate in the use of spirituous liquors; habitually temperate.
  • adjective Not intoxicated or excited by spirituous liquors.
  • adjective Not mad or insane; not wild, visionary, or heated with passion; exercising cool, dispassionate reason; self-controlled; self-possessed.
  • adjective Not proceeding from, or attended with, passion; calm
  • adjective Serious or subdued in demeanor, habit, appearance, or color; solemn; grave; sedate.
  • transitive verb To make sober.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective not drunk; not intoxicated
  • adjective not given to excessive drinking of alcohol;
  • adjective in character; moderate; realistic; serious; not playful; not passionate; cool; self-controlled
  • adjective dull; not bright or colorful;
  • verb To make or become sober.
  • verb To overcome or lose a state of intoxication.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective completely lacking in playfulness
  • verb become sober after excessive alcohol consumption
  • verb cause to become sober
  • verb become more realistic
  • adjective not affected by a chemical substance (especially alcohol)
  • adjective lacking brightness or color; dull
  • adjective dignified and somber in manner or character and committed to keeping promises


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, temperate, not inebriated, from Old French sobre, from Latin sōbrius; see s(w)e- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French sobre, from Latin sōbrius ("without wine"), from se- ("without") + ebrius ("intoxicated"), of unknown origin.


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  • See usage note on alcohol.

    September 10, 2008