Simple Definition of caustic
: able to destroy or burn something by chemical action
: very harsh and critical
Examples of caustic in a sentence
His [Roosevelt's] caustic cousin, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, called him a sissy and a mama's boy. —Garry Wills, Atlantic, April 1994
It was Schuyler's gift for satire and his caustic wit that distinguished his writings and led to his nickname, the Black Mencken. —Henry Louis Gates, Jr., New York Times Book Review, 20 Sept. 1992
Albert quailed before those caustic pronouncements, he shuddered and blanched and felt his stomach drop like a croquette into a vat of hot grease. —T. Coraghessan Boyle, Harper's, October 1987
The chemical was so caustic that it ate through the pipes.
She wrote a caustic report about the decisions that led to the crisis.
Did You Know?
If you have a burning desire to know the origins of "caustic," you're already well on the way to figuring it out. "Caustic" was borrowed into English in the 14th century from the Latin causticus, which itself derives from the Greek kaustikos. "Kaustikos," in turn, comes from the Greek verb kaiein, meaning "to burn." Other "kaiein" descendants in English include "cautery" and "cauterize," "hypocaust" (an ancient Roman heating system), "causalgia" (a burning pain caused by nerve damage), and "encaustic" (a kind of paint which is heated after it's applied).
Origin of caustic
Latin causticus, from Greek kaustikos, from kaiein to burn
First Known Use: 14th century
Synonym Discussion of caustic
Origin of caustic
First Known Use: 15th century
CAUSTIC Defined for Kids
Medical Definition of caustic
: capable of destroying or eating away organic tissue and especially animal tissue by chemical action <silver nitrate and sulfuric acid are caustic agents>
Seen and Heard
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