acerbic

adjective
acer·​bic | \ ə-ˈsər-bik How to pronounce acerbic (audio) , a- \

Definition of acerbic

: sharply or bitingly critical, sarcastic, or ironic in temper, mood, or tone acerbic commentary an acerbic reviewer

Other Words from acerbic

acerbically \ ə-​ˈsər-​bi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce acerbic (audio) \ adverb

Did you know?

English speakers created acerbic in the 19th century by adding -ic to the adjective acerb. Acerb had been around since the 17th century, but for most of that time it had been used only to describe foods with a sour taste. (Acerb is still around today, but now it's simply a less common synonym of acerbic.) Acerbic and acerb ultimately come from the Latin adjective acerbus, which can mean "harsh" or "unpleasant." Another English word that comes from acerbus is exacerbate, which means "to make more violent or severe."

Examples of acerbic in a Sentence

Whitney has graced magazine covers for her acerbic and blunt evisceration of the banks she has covered. Several weeks ago, she left her well-paid post at Oppenheimer to start her own economic consultancy, where she will charge many of her employer's clients for her own unambiguous analysis. — Zachary Karabell, Newsweek, 9 Mar. 2009 … we probably have no choice but to enjoy Private Lives on its own terms—as a play that exults in its total lack of a public dimension. Coward's acerbic wit, his submerged sensibility, and his clipped semantics actually had a profound influence on the styles of virtually all the English dramatists who followed him … — Robert Brustein, New Republic, 10 June 2002 … discovery of self-esteem and New Agey conclusions ("I discovered there was a goddess deep inside me") are something that an acerbic comedian like Cho shouldn't embrace without irony. Publishers Weekly, 7 May 2001 We want to experience how someone as acerbic as Jane Austen, as morally passionate as Dostoyevsky, as psychologically astute as Henry James makes sense of the chaos of this world. — Laura Miller, New York Times Book Review, 15 Mar. 1998 the film's most acerbic critics whispered a steady stream of acerbic comments as the lecturer droned on See More
Recent Examples on the Web John Leo, who as a columnist for Time and U.S. News & World Report used his acerbic wit to slaughter herds of liberal sacred cows, especially those wandering outward from college campuses, died on Monday in the Bronx. New York Times, 11 May 2022 HBO Max's acerbic, bold series is one of many cynical comedies that don't shy away from mixing darkness with humor. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, 11 May 2022 Even the acerbic bons mots delivered with crisp aplomb by Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess, Violet Grantham, don’t match the tart-tongued precision of her best retorts. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 25 Apr. 2022 And why they are jaded or acerbic in their delivery. Karen Mizoguchi, PEOPLE.com, 12 Apr. 2022 But their acerbic back-and-forth is perhaps the best thing about a film that will satisfy action fans looking for comedy, comedy fans looking for action and, with a few very minor qualms, parents looking for something everyone can watch. John Anderson, WSJ, 10 Mar. 2022 Denk is later exposed to the somewhat more acerbic tutelage of Sebők’s duo partner, the formidable cellist János Starker. Simon Callow, The New York Review of Books, 6 Apr. 2022 Biden’s initial round of hires disappointed some of the most ardent liberals, but Rubio’s acerbic reaction underscores the downsides of conventionality. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, 24 Nov. 2020 On the other hand, Edith Poor as Ruth’s nurse, who is trying without much success to convert Ruth to religion during her convalescence, makes the most of her scenes as foil to the more acerbic characters. Stephen Farber, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'acerbic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of acerbic

1865, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for acerbic

acerb + -ic entry 1

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Time Traveler for acerbic

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The first known use of acerbic was in 1865

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Dictionary Entries Near acerbic

acerbate

acerbic

acerbity

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Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Acerbic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acerbic. Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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