ac·​rid ˈa-krəd How to pronounce acrid (audio)
: sharp and harsh or unpleasantly pungent in taste or odor : irritating
acrid smoke
: deeply or violently bitter : acrimonious
an acrid denunciation
acridity noun
acridly adverb
acridness noun

Did you know?

Acrid exactly fits the smoke from a fire—a burning building or forest, for example. Dense smog may cast an acrid pall over a city, making throats burn and eyes sting. But, like acid and acerbic, acrid sometimes also describes nonphysical things, such as the remarks of a bitter person.

Choose the Right Synonym for acrid

caustic, mordant, acrid, scathing mean stingingly incisive.

caustic suggests a biting wit.

caustic comments

mordant suggests a wit that is used with deadly effectiveness.

mordant reviews of the play

acrid implies bitterness and often malevolence.

acrid invective

scathing implies indignant attacks delivered with fierce severity.

a scathing satire

Example Sentences

Thick, acrid smoke rose from the factory. there have been acrid relations between the two families ever since they fought over that strip of land
Recent Examples on the Web Some argued the work was an acrid but intelligent criticism of mass-production, even of capitalism, while others saw a more comforting wall of soup, more about America and post-war options and prosperity. Alexandra Peers, CNN, 9 July 2022 Not least, a Republican chief executive could rebrand the party and improve its acrid image in the state. Los Angeles Times, 13 Jan. 2022 Miles away from the fires, the smoke still left an acrid taste in my mouth. New York Times, 11 Aug. 2021 As the evening went on, Dylan’s voice became more acrid. Mick Stevens, The New Yorker, 12 Aug. 2021 The acrid smoke from massive wildfires that ignited in rural eastern Washington last Labor Day weekend drifted over the Cascades before blanketing the state’s populous western flank. Lindsey Mcginnis, The Christian Science Monitor, 9 Aug. 2021 Sparks fly where steel is being burned, and an acrid, choking smoke billows up when a torch sets off insulation or oil or something else flammable. Jacques Kelly,, 9 Aug. 2021 There is a moment when the sugars in a black plantain will begin to ferment and release a slightly acrid smell. New York Times, 6 Aug. 2021 On edge after months of lockdown, widespread infection and death, and a highly acrid political climate, people across the political spectrum nurtured a handful of increasingly fantastical explanations for the dismal state of things. J.c. Pan, The New Republic, 1 Oct. 2020 See More

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

Word History


Latin ācr-, ācer "sharp, pungent, biting" + the English formative -id (as in acid entry 2); replacing acrious, from Latin ācer + -ious — more at acr-

First Known Use

1633, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of acrid was in 1633

Dictionary Entries Near acrid

Cite this Entry

“Acrid.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


ac·​rid ˈak-rəd How to pronounce acrid (audio)
: biting or bitter in taste or odor
: bitterly irritating to the feelings
an acrid remark
acridly adverb
acridness noun

Medical Definition


ac·​rid ˈak-rəd How to pronounce acrid (audio)
: irritatingly sharp and harsh or unpleasantly pungent in taste or odor
acridly adverb

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