Definition of acerbic
: sharply or bitingly critical, sarcastic, or ironic in temper, mood, or tone acerbic commentary an acerbic reviewer
acerbicallyplay \-bi-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
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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
Recent Examples of acerbic from the Web
Phillips, a retired accountant who started acting at 65, portrayed the acerbic shopkeeper Ruth-Anne Miller in the television series Northern Exposure.
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.
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."
Origin and Etymology of acerbic
First Known Use: 1865
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