Definition of asperity
1 : roughness of manner or of temper : harshness of behavior or speech that expresses bitterness or anger He asked with some asperity just what they were implying.
3a : roughness of surface : unevenness; also : a tiny projection from a surface the asperities of the tongueb : roughness of sound
asperity was our Word of the Day on 06/17/2010. Hear the podcast!
Did You Know?
Asperity has had a rough history. It came to Modern English through Middle English (where it was spelled "asprete") by way of the Anglo-French ("asprete"), and ultimately derives from the Latin word asper, which means "rough." Not only is "asper" the source of "asperity," but it also underlies the English word exasperate (in fact, you can see "asper" nestled in the midst of that word). Although it is far less common than "asperity" and "exasperate," the word asper itself is still occasionally used in English, too - it functions as a synonym of "harsh," "bitter," or "stern."
Origin and Etymology of asperity
Middle English asprete, from Anglo-French aspreté, from aspre rough, from Latin asper, from Old Latin *absperos, from ab- ab- + -speros; akin to Sanskrit apasphura repelling, Latin spernere to spurn — more at spurn
First Known Use: 13th century
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