Meaning of SOUR in English

I. sour 1 /saʊə $ saʊr/ BrE AmE adjective

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: sur ]

1 . having a sharp acid taste, like the taste of a ↑ lemon or a fruit that is not ready to be eaten OPP sweet ⇨ bitter :

Rachel sampled the wine. It was sour.

sour cherries

⇨ ↑ sweet-and-sour

2 . milk or other food that is sour is not fresh and has a bad taste

turn/go sour (=become sour)


In everyday English, people usually say milk goes bad or, in British English, goes off , rather than goes sour .

3 . unfriendly or looking bad-tempered

sour look/face/smile etc

Eliza was tall and thin, with a rather sour face.

a sour-faced old man

4 . informal if a relationship or plan turns or goes sour, it becomes less enjoyable, pleasant, or satisfactory:

As time went by, their marriage turned sour.

The meeting ended on a sour note, with neither side able to reach agreement.

5 . sour grapes used to say that someone is pretending that they dislike something because they want it but cannot have it – used to show disapproval

—sourly adverb

—sourness noun [uncountable]

• • •


▪ bitter having a strong sharp taste that is not sweet, like black coffee without sugar - used especially about chocolate, medicine etc:

The dessert is made with a slightly bitter chocolate.


Hops give beer its distinctive bitter taste.


The medicine tasted bitter.


As the lettuce gets older, the leaves become more bitter.

▪ sharp having a taste that makes your tongue sting slightly:

Rhubarb has quite a sharp taste.


The cheese has a pleasing colour and a pleasantly sharp flavour.

▪ sour having a usually unpleasant sharp acid taste, like the taste of a lemon, or a fruit that is not ready to be eaten – used especially about fruit, or about liquids that have gone bad:

Some people say that the purpose of the lemon’s sour taste is to stop the fruit being eaten by animals.


Rachel sampled the wine. It was sour.

▪ acidic very sour – used especially about liquids or things made with fruits such as oranges, lemons, or grapes:

Some fruit juices taste a bit acidic.

▪ tangy having a taste that is pleasantly strong or sharp, and that often tastes a little sweet as well:

The ribs are cooked in a tangy barbecue sauce.

▪ tart having a taste that lacks sweetness – used especially about fruit such as apples, which you need to add sugar to:

The pudding had rather a tart flavour.


The trees were covered with tart wild plums.

II. sour 2 BrE AmE verb [intransitive and transitive]

1 . if a relationship or someone’s attitude sours, or if something sours it, it becomes unfriendly or unfavourable:

An unhappy childhood has soured her view of life.

2 . if milk sours, or if something sours it, it begins to have an unpleasant sharp taste

• • •


▪ spoil to have a bad effect on something so that it is much less attractive, enjoyable etc:

New housing developments are spoiling the countryside.


The bad weather completely spoiled our holiday.

▪ ruin to spoil something completely and permanently:

Using harsh soap to wash your face can ruin your skin.


The argument ruined the evening for me.

▪ mar written to spoil something by making it less attractive or enjoyable:

His handsome Arab features were marred by a long scar across his face.


Outbreaks of fighting marred the New Year celebrations.

▪ detract from something to slightly spoil something that is generally very good, beautiful, or impressive:

The huge number of tourists rather detracts from the city’s appeal.


There were a few minor irritations, but this did not detract from our enjoyment of the holiday.

▪ undermine to spoil something that you have been trying to achieve:

The bombings undermined several months of careful negotiations.

▪ sour to spoil a friendly relationship between people or countries:

The affair has soured relations between the UK and Russia.

▪ poison to spoil a close relationship completely, so that people can no longer trust each other:

Their marriage was poisoned by a terrible dark secret.

▪ mess something up informal to spoil something important or something that has been carefully planned:

If there’s any delay, it will mess up our whole schedule.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.