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[soh-ber] /ˈsoʊ bər/
adjective, soberer, soberest.
not intoxicated or drunk.
habitually temperate, especially in the use of liquor.
quiet or sedate in demeanor, as persons.
marked by seriousness, gravity, solemnity, etc., as of demeanor, speech, etc.:
a sober occasion.
subdued in tone, as color; not gay or showy, as clothes.
free from excess, extravagance, or exaggeration:
sober facts.
showing self-control:
sober restraint.
sane or rational:
a sober solution to the problem.
verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
to make or become sober: (often followed by up).
Origin of sober
1300-50; Middle English sobre < Old French < Latin sōbrius
Related forms
soberingly, adverb
soberly, adverb
soberness, noun
nonsober, adjective
nonsoberly, adverb
nonsoberness, noun
nonsobering, adjective
quasi-sober, adjective
quasi-soberly, adverb
unsober, adjective
unsoberly, adverb
unsoberness, noun
unsobered, adjective
unsobering, adjective
2. abstinent, abstemious. 4. serious, quiet, sedate, subdued, staid. See grave2 . 5. somber, dull. 7. composed, collected. 8. reasonable, sound.
4. gay. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for soberness
Historical Examples
  • No doubt he recognized that, if the admiral made a fool of himself, he would be afraid to issue warrants in soberness.

    Romance Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer
  • In all soberness, then, all I am certain of is that she had a stick to swing.

    Some Reminiscences Joseph Conrad
  • I knew I was too inconsiderate, too rash, too flighty, and I said to myself that his soberness would be a good thing for me.

  • After awhile, the unhappiness disappeared, but the soberness remained.

    Divinity William Morrison
  • His little boyhood had been heavy with sorrow and soberness; she had lightened it by her gaiety and good nature.

    Mistress Anne Temple Bailey
  • But soberness and vigilance are necessary to enable one to pray.

    Epistle Sermons, Vol. II Martin Luther
  • He was dressed like everybody, but his costume had, somehow, an effect of soberness beyond his years.

    Grey Roses Henry Harland
  • He cites them as models of soberness, mildness, and justice.

    A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 1 (of 10) Franois-Marie Arouet (AKA Voltaire)
  • soberness had now visited the pair behind us; even Lin's lively talk had quieted, and his tones were low and few.

    Lin McLean Owen Wister
  • Yet she sensed in his soberness something fine that did not mark the rest.

    Kit Musgrave's Luck Harold Bindloss
British Dictionary definitions for soberness


not drunk
not given to excessive indulgence in drink or any other activity
sedate and rational: a sober attitude to a problem
(of colours) plain and dull or subdued
free from exaggeration or speculation: he told us the sober truth
(usually foll by up) to make or become less intoxicated, reckless, etc
Derived Forms
sobering, adjective
soberingly, adverb
soberly, adverb
soberness, noun
Word Origin
C14 sobre, from Old French, from Latin sōbrius
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for soberness



mid-14c., "moderate in desires or actions, temperate, restrained," especially "abstaining from strong drink," also "calm, quiet, not overcome by emotion," from Old French sobre "decent; sober" (12c.), from Latin sobrius "not drunk, temperate, moderate, sensible," from a variant of se- "without" (see se-) + ebrius "drunk," of unknown origin. Meaning "not drunk at the moment" is from late 14c.; also "appropriately solemn, serious, not giddy." Related: Soberly; soberness. Sobersides "sedate, serious-minded person" is recorded from 1705.


late 14c., "reduce to a quiet condition" (transitive), from sober (adj.). Meaning "render grave or serious" is from 1726. Intransitive sense of "become sober" (since late 19c. often with up) is from 1820. Related: Sobered; sobering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for soberness



son of a bitch (1918+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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