AskDefine | Define acerbic

Dictionary Definition

acerbic adj
1 sour or bitter in taste [syn: acerb, astringent, sharp]
2 harsh or corrosive in tone; "an acerbic tone piercing otherwise flowery prose"; "a barrage of acid comments"; "her acrid remarks make her many enemies"; "bitter words"; "blistering criticism"; "caustic jokes about political assassination, talk-show hosts and medical ethics"; "a sulfurous denunciation" [syn: acerb, acid, acrid, bitter, blistering, caustic, sulfurous, sulphurous, venomous, virulent, vitriolic]

User Contributed Dictionary



Circa 17th century, from acerbus (sour, bitter).



  1. Sour or bitter.
  2. Sarcastic or cynical
    e.g. acerbic wit; "Well, he's certainly the bright bulb among the 25-watters..."
  3. Sharp-tempered.
    • "...he is one of the most acerbic people in his field, quick to take offense and not shy about telling people with whom he disagrees how much he thinks they have failed in thought and action." — Washington Post, May 5, 2005


sour or bitter
  • Finnish: kitkerä
  • German: sauer, bitter
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