bitter

adjective
bit·​ter | \ ˈbi-tər How to pronounce bitter (audio) \

Definition of bitter

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : being, inducing, or marked by the one of the five basic taste sensations that is peculiarly acrid, astringent, and often disagreeable and characteristic of citrus peels, unsweetened cocoa, black coffee, mature leafy greens (such as kale or mustard), or ale The pill left a bitter taste in my mouth. bitter beer bitter chocolates — compare salty entry 1 sense 1b, sour entry 1 sense 1, sweet entry 1, umami entry 2 sense 1
b : distasteful or distressing to the mind : galling a bitter sense of shame
2 : marked by intensity or severity:
a : accompanied by severe pain or suffering a bitter death
b : being relentlessly determined : vehement a bitter partisan
c : exhibiting intense animosity bitter enemies
d(1) : harshly reproachful bitter complaints
(2) : marked by cynicism and rancor bitter contempt was still bitter about not being chosen
e : intensely unpleasant especially in coldness or rawness a bitter wind
3 : caused by or expressive of severe pain, grief, or regret bitter tears

bitter

noun

Definition of bitter (Entry 2 of 4)

1a : bitter quality … stepping outside your comfort zone and taking the bitter with the sweet.— James Poniewoziks
b : the taste sensation that is peculiarly acrid, astringent, and often disagreeable and is characteristic of citrus peels, unsweetened cocoa, black coffee, mature leafy greens (such as kale or mustard), or ale — compare salty entry 2, sour entry 2 sense 1b, sweet entry 3 sense 2, umami entry 1
2a bitters\ ˈbi-​tərz How to pronounce bitter (audio) \ plural : a usually alcoholic solution of bitter and often aromatic plant products used especially in preparing mixed drinks or as a mild tonic (see tonic entry 1 sense 1b)
b British : a very dry (see dry entry 1 sense 7b) heavily hopped ale

bitter

verb
bittered; bittering; bitters

Definition of bitter (Entry 3 of 4)

transitive verb

: to make bitter (see bitter entry 1) bittered ale

bitter

adverb

Definition of bitter (Entry 4 of 4)

: to an intense or severe degree : to a bitter (see bitter entry 1) degree It's bitter cold.

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Other Words from bitter

Adjective

bitterish \ ˈbi-​tə-​rish How to pronounce bitter (audio) \ adjective
bitterly adverb
bitterness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for bitter

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of bitter in a Sentence

Adjective Cocoa beans have a bitter flavor. The medicine had a bitter aftertaste. We were struck by the bitter irony of the situation. His betrayal had made her bitter. She was still bitter toward her ex-husband. He's the bitterest man I know. Noun The cocktail recipe called for a dash of bitters. a good selection of bitters
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Miss Olivia Rodrigo made an album for anyone above the age of 22 who is still bitter about not making out in high school. Neha Prakash, Marie Claire, 21 May 2021 True, the breakup was bitter on her part, and this Kennedy Center Honors is hers. Washington Post, 12 May 2021 Candy heir Jacqueline Mars’ divorce from her second husband, Hank Vogel, in 1994 was also more bitter than sweet. Chase Peterson-withorn, Forbes, 9 May 2021 People are bitter, for understandable reasons in many cases. Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review, 26 Apr. 2021 Even as American officials relied on Pakistani help to conduct the war and intelligence operations, some were bitter about the double role played by the I.S.I. New York Times, 15 Apr. 2021 The plants are toxic if large quantities are eaten, which will be very unlikely, as the plants are bitter to the taste and thus not favored by browsing animals. Tim Johnson, chicagotribune.com, 10 Apr. 2021 Dickens is still bitter about being a victim in a huge scheme involving more than 100 homeowners in Dallas, Arlington and Forth Worth. Dave Lieber, Dallas News, 8 Apr. 2021 The night was bitter, with the thermometer at zero degrees and a windchill of minus 10. John Reinan, Star Tribune, 26 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Other favorite ingredients that bring out the brashness include angelica, wormwood, cinchona bark, licorice, green cardamom, mint, and everyone’s favorite Christmas bitter, myrrh. Beth Segal, cleveland, 28 May 2021 Wexford Irish Style Cream Ale has a profile similar to an English bitter, but with less bitterness and a greater malt presence. Michael Agnew, Star Tribune, 10 Mar. 2021 Monarchs have evolved to withstand a certain level of that toxin, storing it away in their bodies as a bitter-tasting deterrent to potential predators, including parasites. Farah Eltohamy, Animals, 15 Dec. 2020 While producing similar effects to that of bitter-tasting apple cider vinegar or saccharine kombucha, Pedre notes the equal parts unique and flavorful combinations—including apple cinnamon and turmeric ginger—as well as the low sugar content. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, 25 Nov. 2020 Derived from a bitter-tasting tree native to India, this toxin was known since antiquity in Asia and was used in many traditional medicines. Meg Neal, Popular Mechanics, 4 Oct. 2020 Try a Bitter Giuseppe, with sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters, and a slice of lemon or splash of lemon juice. Dave Clark, Cincinnati.com, 29 May 2020 The Jingle Bow serves between two and four people and includes multiple types of rum, apple brandy, tropical fruit juices, bitters and maple syrup. Tirion Morris, azcentral, 12 Dec. 2019 Tourists enjoyed a Venetian Spritz — a colorful aperitif with an Italian bitter and Prosecco — as the waters rose. Washington Post, 18 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Most Beach Club beers, like Mango Colada with coconut and lime, have minimal amounts of bittering hops. Eric Velasco, al, 23 Apr. 2020 This grape is extremely approachable, with lots of fruit flavor and balanced dryness, due to the low tannins, which are the drying or bittering agent in many wines. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, 7 Nov. 2019 With all the ABVs and bittering units, barrel sizes and batch numbers, a beer bottle’s label can often read like the back of a baseball card. William Bostwick, WSJ, 8 Aug. 2018 The liqueur puts Indiana persimmons front and center while adding traditional bittering agents like rhubarb root and bitter orange peel, with cardamom and spearmint offering added complexity. Kenney Marlatt, chicagotribune.com, 30 May 2018 Another hop, typically grown in the Southern Hemisphere and used largely as a bittering agent, presented big, fruit flavors more like traditional West Coast hops. Natasha Geiling, Smithsonian, 21 May 2018 Those are made employing the still somewhat suspicious American practice of adding bittering hops to the mix, but there's nothing aggressive or even untoward about them. Mike Sula, Chicago Reader, 22 Mar. 2018 Night Shift built Nite Lite similarly, adding real corn (as opposed to corn syrup or rice syrup) and brewing with a touch of Saaz hops, the classic bittering agent in a Czech pilsner. Gary Dzen, BostonGlobe.com, 20 Mar. 2018 Two grants for a total of $135,154 went to Pennsylvania State University for projects involving hops, which are the bittering agent in beer. Harold Brubaker, Philly.com, 1 Mar. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The benefit to squeezers is more control over the juicing process, so your end result should be pure, delicious juice with no bitter-tasting peel oil. Laura Duerr, chicagotribune.com, 13 Mar. 2021 Tonic is in another category altogether and best left for your G&Ts; the bitter-tasting quinine is usually balanced by a fair amount of sugar, and the more pronounced flavor can alter your cocktail’s taste. Adrienne Donica, Popular Mechanics, 11 July 2020 Once the weather starts getting hot, your celery will start producing seeds and turn bitter, much the way that lettuce bolts in the heat. Jeanette Marantosstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 22 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bitter.' 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 bitter

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

12th century, in the meaning defined above

Adverb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bitter

Adjective

Middle English, going back to Old English biter, going back to Germanic *bitra- (whence Old Saxon & Old High German bittar "acrid-tasting," Old Norse bitr "biting, sharp") and *baitra- (whence Gothic baitrs "sharp-tasting"), derivatives from the base of *bītan- "to bite" — more at bite entry 1

Noun

derivative of bitter entry 1

Verb

Middle English bittrin, going back to Old English biterian, derivative of biter bitter entry 1

Adverb

Middle English bitter, bittere, going back to Old English bitere, derivative of biter bitter entry 1

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Time Traveler for bitter

Time Traveler

The first known use of bitter was before the 12th century

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Statistics for bitter

Last Updated

11 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bitter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bitter. Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for bitter

bitter

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of bitter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: having a strong and often unpleasant flavor that is the opposite of sweet
: causing painful emotions : felt or experienced in a strong and unpleasant way
: angry and unhappy because of unfair treatment

bitter

noun

English Language Learners Definition of bitter (Entry 2 of 2)

: a bitter alcoholic liquid that is used especially in mixed drinks
British : a type of beer that has a slightly bitter flavor

bitter

adjective
bit·​ter | \ ˈbi-tər How to pronounce bitter (audio) \
bitterer; bitterest

Kids Definition of bitter

1 : sharp, biting, and unpleasant to the taste
2 : unhappy and angry because of unfair treatment She was bitter toward her spoiled sister.
3 : hard to put up with a bitter disappointment
4 : caused by anger, distress, or sorrow bitter tears
5 : very harsh or sharp : biting a bitter wind

Other Words from bitter

bitterly adverb wept bitterly

bitter

adjective
bit·​ter | \ ˈbit-ər How to pronounce bitter (audio) \

Medical Definition of bitter

: being or inducing the one of the four basic taste sensations that is peculiarly acrid, astringent, or disagreeable and suggestive of an infusion of hops — compare salt entry 2 sense 2, sour entry 1, sweet entry 1

Other Words from bitter

bitterness noun

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