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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

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

  • transitive verb To make sober.
  • 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.

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