\ ə-ˈsərb How to pronounce acerb (audio) , a- \

Definition of acerb

: acerbic acerb humor

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Examples of acerb in a Sentence

a professor with a rather acerb sense of humor

First Known Use of acerb

1822, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for acerb

borrowed from French & Latin; French acerbe, going back to Old French, borrowed from Latin acerbus, going back to a pre-Latin stem *akri-þo-, derivative of *ā̆kri- "sharp" — more at acrid

Note: This etymology presupposes that underlying the -b- is the same adjective suffix that normally appears as -id- (< -*iþ- < Indo-European *-idh-). The presumed development would be *akri-þo-, then by syncope > akr̥þos, then by vocalization > *akerþos > *akerfos > acerbus. For the treatment of Indo-European *dh in this position a standard Latin basis of comparison is verbum.

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Cite this Entry

“Acerb.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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