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

  • adj. Habitually abstemious in the use of alcoholic liquors or drugs; temperate.
  • adj. Not intoxicated or affected by the use of drugs.
  • adj. Plain or subdued: sober attire.
  • adj. Devoid of frivolity, excess, exaggeration, or speculative imagination; straightforward: gave a sober assessment of the situation.
  • adj. Marked by seriousness, gravity, or solemnity of conduct or character. See Synonyms at serious.
  • adj. Marked by circumspection and self-restraint.
  • transitive v. To make or become sober.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

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

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


Middle English, from Old French sobre, from Latin sōbrius; see s(w)e- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French sobre, from Latin sōbrius ("without wine"), from se- ("without") + ebrius ("intoxicated"), of unknown origin. (Wiktionary)


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  • That day, the group asks that families, schools, other organizations host what he calls sober parties at their homes.

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  • “With reverence, sir,” said the boy, “he was what he calls sober, and what I would call concerned in liquor for any other person.”


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