acer·​bi·​ty ə-ˈsər-bə-tē How to pronounce acerbity (audio)
plural acerbities
: the quality of being acerbic

Examples of acerbity in a Sentence

the customer made his displeasure known with more acerbity than was necessary
Recent Examples on the Web The third element of the trio is Mary Flynn, played by the terrific Lindsey Mendez, a 2018 Tony winner for Carousel, with a natural warmth that offsets the character’s growing acerbity. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Dec. 2022 The Brodie books demonstrate her great facility with genre, pairing pulse-quickening suspense with Atkinson’s distinctive blend of puckishness and acerbity. Sarah Chihaya, The New Yorker, 16 Oct. 2022 Mazower notes with some acerbity that no king of Greece died quietly in office before 1947 . . . Claire Messud, Harper's Magazine, 26 Oct. 2021 Rarely does a reviewer convey her opinion of a book’s strengths and weaknesses with such grace and acerbity. New York Times, 4 Dec. 2020 The Academy Awards for the movies of 1988 were awash in bluntness, cruelty and acerbity. Wesley Morris, New York Times, 2 Oct. 2020 There is, however, something respectable and clarifying about its commitment to acerbity. Kate Knibbs, Wired, 7 Sep. 2020 Overly harsh with citrus, the fish was like an Italianate ceviche, and its acerbity drowned the satiny, subtle panna cotta. Kate Washington, sacbee, 11 May 2018 By now Dimon is nearly iconic in his acerbity and general spikiness. Daniel Gross, Slate Magazine, 17 July 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'acerbity.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Middle French acerbité, borrowed from Latin acerbitāt-, acerbitās, from acerbus "sour, bitter" + -itāt-, -itās -ity — more at acerb

First Known Use

1572, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of acerbity was in 1572

Dictionary Entries Near acerbity

Cite this Entry

“Acerbity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

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