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

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Other Words from acerbic

acerbically \ -​bi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce acerbically (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 with only a literal "sour-tasting" sense. (The word acerb is still around today, but it is now simply a less common synonym of "acerbic.") "Acerbic" and "acerb" ultimately come from the Latin adjective acerbus, which can mean "harsh," "bitter," or "unpleasant." Another English word that comes from "acerbus" is "exacerbate," which means "to make more violent, bitter, 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
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Recent Examples on the Web

For a master class in colliding charming aesthetics and slightly more acerbic content, look at the collage artist Anne Taintor, who has been mashing up 1950s advertising imagery with witty phrases of her own invention since the mid-1980s. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "We buy each other gifts with misanthropic slogans to forge a common bond," 9 Nov. 2018 Political tweets from either side of the aisle can also tip Twitter’s scales with a heavy thumb: Short, acerbic, and brutal remarks do well. Luke O’neil, WSJ, "The Elusive Art of Going Viral on Twitter," 27 Sep. 2018 The Pulitzer-winning columnist, Harvard Medical School graduate and intellectual provocateur left a legacy of acerbic and prolific commentary that helped shape decades of public opinion in Washington and the rest of the world. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Under Trump, Americans are becoming more supportive of immigration," 22 June 2018 Trump has also spent some time in consultation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of the deal's most acerbic critics. Amanda Erickson, Washington Post, "All the different ways Trump could go on the Iran deal," 7 May 2018 Trump has also spent some time in consultation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of the deal's most acerbic critics. Amanda Erickson,, "All the different ways Trump could go on the Iran deal," 7 May 2018 There is no obvious precedent for such a coordinated and acerbic series of attacks by White House advisers on a stalwart U.S. ally. Damian Paletta, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump, White House advisers blast Canada's Trudeau in brutal aftermath of G-7 summit," 11 June 2018 Scott’s Germany mission also endangered original Ant-Man Hank Pym (Michael Douglas, acerbic as ever) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly). Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "Ant-Man and the Wasp is a solid improvement on Ant-Man," 6 July 2018 With an acerbic wit, razor-sharp intelligence, deathly lip syncing skills, and enough charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent to sink a ship of Drag Race hopefuls, Bob is one sickening queen. Alim Kheraj, GQ, "How to Do Pride Right, With Bob the Drag Queen," 18 June 2018

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.

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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

The first known use of acerbic was in 1865

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More from Merriam-Webster on acerbic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for acerbic

Spanish Central: Translation of acerbic

Nglish: Translation of acerbic for Spanish Speakers

Comments on acerbic

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a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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