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

Definition of acerb

: acerbic acerb humor

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about acerb

Time Traveler for acerb

Time Traveler

The first known use of acerb was in 1822

See more words from the same year

Statistics for acerb

Cite this Entry

“Acerb.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on acerb

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for acerb

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with acerb

Nglish: Translation of acerb for Spanish Speakers

Comments on acerb

What made you want to look up acerb? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!