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

But many Macedonians are bitter about having to change their country’s name, under Greek pressure, as the price for entry into the West’s most important organizations. Nektaria Stamouli, WSJ, "Name Change to ‘North Macedonia’ Approved by Macedonian Parliament," 11 Jan. 2019 The pit is very bitter, which is why those who are using it tend to grind it up and disguise it in other foods. Mari A. Schaefer, Philly.com, "Should you eat the avocado pit?," 25 June 2018 Nixon and Trump aren’t the only Republican presidents to have embarked on risky summit diplomacy with America’s most bitter enemies. Andrew Preston, The New Republic, "Will Trump Be Nixon in China?," 11 June 2018 Add too many hops, and the beer will be so bitter as to be undrinkable. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "How to get that great “hoppy” beer taste without the exploding bottles," 5 Oct. 2018 In fact, Ethiopia and Eritrea have spent the last two decades more like bitter enemies, ever since a border dispute in the late 1990s turned into a brutal war that killed nearly 100,000 people, according to some estimates. Ryan Lenora Brown, The Christian Science Monitor, "After years of unrest, Ethiopia enters new era of openness," 11 July 2018 Eggplant fruits that mature during the summer are often more bitter than those produced during the cooler times of the year. Tom Maccubbin, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Most tomatoes won't grow in summer in Florida," 7 July 2018 The end was bitter for Argentina, as a 4-0 loss to the Germans ended their second attempt of the Messi era. Juan Pimiento, chicagotribune.com, "Russia 2018, Messi's and Ronaldo's last shot at World Cup glory," 8 June 2018 Milkweed has chemicals in the foliage that are taken in by the butterflies to produce a bitter taste and are important to discouraging predators. Calvin Finch, San Antonio Express-News, "Attracting and producing butterflies in your landscape," 6 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Greg Seider offers more than 50 recipes for cocktails, punches, spirit infusions, bitters, and tinctures in this guide, which features beautiful photographs by Noah Fecks. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "12 Cocktail Books to Improve Your Bartending Skills," 9 Nov. 2018 Try The West Coast, a refreshing blend of local gin, bitters, lemon juice, egg white, and kelp salt. Seth Shezi, Condé Nast Traveler, "13 Best Bars in Cape Town," 13 Sep. 2018 Drinks: Cut that sweetness with something a little bitter like the Avon Spritzer made with sparkling wine, aperol and grapefruit juice ($8) or the Alabama Shake, which features whiskey, an absinthe rinse, lemon, sugar and bitters ($11). Samantha Nelson, RedEye Chicago, "Warm up with these 16 winter brunches in Chicago," 18 Jan. 2018 Make the Old-Fashioned: Place bourbon, Orange-Thyme Simple Syrup (recipe below), and Angostura bitters in a cocktail shaker; top with ice. Kate Merker, Country Living, "Orange-Thyme Old-Fashioned," 31 Oct. 2018 Note: The ginger bitters are a handmade product by Kidner. Lisa Futterman, chicagotribune.com, "Stir, shake, swizzle like the pros to create cocktails at home. There's a class for that," 17 May 2018

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

12 May 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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