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 bitters (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 bitterish (audio) \ adjective
bitterly adverb
bitterness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for bitter

Synonyms: Adjective

acrid, acrimonious, embittered, hard, rancorous, resentful, sore

Antonyms: Adjective

unbitter

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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

The fact that the Iraq War had caused bitter disputes within NATO, and dramatically depleted American prestige and soft power, made these and other problems still more difficult to manage. Hal Brands, National Review, "Lessons from the Iraq War," 20 June 2019 There were constitutional crises, separatist movements, and bitter disputes between European leaders. Anne Applebaum, The New York Review of Books, "The Lure of Western Europe," 6 June 2019 The warning comes amid an increasingly bitter trade dispute between Beijing and Washington and tougher immigration enforcement by the Trump administration. Times Wire Reports, latimes.com, "China warns against U.S. travel, threatening luxury goods makers that rely on tourists," 4 June 2019 The new accusations are part of protracted, bitter dispute between Trump's company and Fintiklis, the majority owner of the 70-story, seaside, sail-shaped building. NBC News, "Hotel investor: Trump evaded taxes in Panama," 4 June 2019 But given the recent history of bitter disputes with the union, some might call the district’s latest play with the budget projections wishful thinking. Michael Finch Ii, sacbee, "Sacramento city schools could save millions on teachers’ health care. Will union play ball?," 4 June 2019 Overbeating the egg wash can produce bubbles that prevent the breading from clinging, which means crumbs fall off and burn in the oil, leaving a bitter taste and lowering the smoke point of the oil. Francine Maroukian, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Deep Fryers—and How to Fry Anything," 14 Nov. 2018 Still, Republicans were champing at the bit to take on Manchin in 2018, and eventually Morrisey, the state attorney general, emerged from a bitter three-way primary as the nominee. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "Joe Manchin reelected in West Virginia: the most conservative Senate Democrat survives," 7 Nov. 2018 So, yes, the Warriors just acquired their most talented center since Joe Barry Carroll in the 1980s (or if that leaves a bitter taste, go with J.B.’s predecessor, Robert Parish). Bruce Jenkins, SFChronicle.com, "DeMarcus Cousins and the Warriors: A temporary, fascinating spectacle," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Place sugar cube in rocks glass, top with bitters and 1/2 teaspoon water and let soak until sugar dissolves a little. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Thinking Cap Cocktail," 17 Aug. 2018 But don't expect fantastical concoctions with fancy bitters served in beakers on a bed of dry ice. Nneka Mcguire, chicagotribune.com, "Hungry for authenticity? Consider calling Humboldt Park home," 2 July 2017 Add the rum, mezcal, bitters, lime juice, passion fruit liqueur and ginger syrup. Sonia Rao, chicagotribune.com, "Summer cocktail recipes to expand your happy hour horizons," 29 June 2018 Try the scarlet orange Bugs Bunnys with Tanqueray gin, fresh carrot juice, and three chile bitters, or the Manhattan served inside a hollow ice sphere that's cracked open with a spoon. Scarlett Lindeman, Condé Nast Traveler, "20 Best Bars in Mexico City," 27 Feb. 2018 Sip on a sake sangria made with sake, sparkling wine, watermelon and grapes, or a Toki Old Fashioned made with Japanese Toki whisky, Hibiki whisky, honey and bitters, both available for $15. Shelbie Lynn Bostedt, RedEye Chicago, "Drink your way around the globe without leaving Chicago," 21 Sep. 2017 The mocktail version: Omit elderflower liqueur and lavender bitters. Kate Richards, Country Living, "Spring Bouquet Cocktail," 19 Mar. 2019 For those wishing summer would stay a little bit longer, order a Sunset Clause, which has tequila and spicy bitters. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Just the Cocktails to Order When You Need a Drink During New York Fashion Week," 7 Sep. 2018 Combine pink grapefruit juice, applejack, rosewater, lavender bitters, fresh lime juice, elderflower liqueur, and honey simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Kate Richards, Country Living, "Spring Bouquet Cocktail," 19 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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, "Finally, Light Beers That Aren’t Light on Flavor," 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, "Chicago spirit-maker Apologue delivers Midwestern flavors to cocktails," 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, "The East Coast May Be On the Brink of a Hop Renaissance," 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, "Irving Park’s Eris is a space of supermortal dimensions," 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, "Night Shift releasing Nite Lite, taking on the Buds and Millers of the world," 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, "Pa. awards $705K in PLCB grants to promote state's beer industry," 1 Mar. 2018 Ginger bitters counter the prominent elderflower notes, while the cider gives the glass a silky finish instead of boisterous bubbles. Rheanna Bellomo, Esquire, "5 Aprés-Ski Cocktails to Warm You Up After a Day on the Slopes," 16 Feb. 2018 CO2 Extract Hop Oil Hop-oil extract replaces bittering hop pellets added at the start of the boil. Matt Allyn, Popular Mechanics, "The New Science of Making Ridiculously Hoppy Beer," 18 Jan. 2018

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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Statistics for bitter

Last Updated

23 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bitter

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on bitter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bitter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bitter

Spanish Central: Translation of bitter

Nglish: Translation of bitter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bitter for Arabic Speakers

Comments on bitter

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