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 play was initially bitter and crushing in its depiction of the girl’s disability and her parent’s struggle to care for her. Harrison Smith, Washington Post, "Peter Nichols, mordant playwright of ‘A Day in the Death of Joe Egg,’ dies at 92," 10 Sep. 2019 Mr Assad’s ruthless tactics have left large parts of his population bitter and alienated. The Economist, "Syria will poison the region for years to come," 5 Sep. 2019 The cherries, while bitter to taste, vary in flavor like apples or grapes. Steve Zimmerman, chicagotribune.com, "Some of Chicago’s most interesting coffee is roasted in the suburbs. Here’s where to find it.," 3 Sep. 2019 Since hop varieties are so varied, an IPA may be notably bitter, citrusy, piney, herbal or imbued with tropical fruit notes. Peter Rowe, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Warm day, cold beer, hot cause: San Diego Festival of Beer battles cancer," 3 Sep. 2019 Follow Your Nose to Flavor The tongue detects at least five distinct tastes—sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami (a savory, meaty taste). Jeff Csatari, Popular Mechanics, "The Ultimate Grilling Guide," 30 Aug. 2019 There’s one, published in my book Apéritif: Cocktail Hour the French Way, that drinks like a slightly bitter (in a good way) margarita, with yellow Suze, blanc vermouth, and lime. Rebekah Peppler, Bon Appétit, "You Should Be Doing More Shots," 26 Aug. 2019 While divisions among the GOP often play out in bitter, public fights, Democrats have, for the most part, kept their electoral squabbles private. Nic Garcia, The Denver Post, "Colorado Democrats usually play nice with each other. That could change in 2020.," 25 Aug. 2019 The original recipe, which is still in use today, remains a secret, but does include both bitter and sweet oranges as well as rhubarb. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "The History of the Aperol Spritz," 24 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In a mixing glass, stir together the bitters, cherry juice and simple syrup. M. Carrie Allan, The Denver Post, "No alcohol, no problem: How to make complex, balanced zero-proof cocktails," 23 Aug. 2019 In a mixing glass, stir together the bitters, cherry juice and simple syrup. M. Carrie Allan, Twin Cities, "No alcohol, no problem: How to make complex, balanced zero-proof cocktails," 19 Aug. 2019 In a mixing glass, stir together the bitters, cherry juice and simple syrup. M. Carrie Allan, Washington Post, "No alcohol, no problem: How to make complex, balanced zero-proof cocktails," 14 Aug. 2019 Fill a cocktail shaker two-thirds of the way with ice cubes, then add the lime juice, coconut cream and bitters. M. Carrie Allan, Washington Post, "No alcohol, no problem: How to make complex, balanced zero-proof cocktails," 14 Aug. 2019 The Stevie Ray, with lemon, pineapple, ginger and maple, is enhanced with Angostura bitters. Leeanne Griffin, courant.com, "Shell & Bones: Unique summer cocktails, with or without booze, but always with a spectacular view," 12 July 2019 The drink consists of muddled blood oranges, blood orange bitters, sugar, bourbon and a splash of soda, garnished with a maraschino cherry and a ball of ice. Weldon B. Johnson, azcentral, "Celebrate Arizona's role in the Apollo moon landing with anniversary-themed food, drinks and souvenirs," 1 July 2019 This grown-up shake triples down on the peach, in the form of ice cream, fresh fruit and bitters. Becky Krystal, Washington Post, "If we had our way, we’d eat peaches every day. Here are 7 recipes to make the most of them.," 20 July 2019 The latter is a take on the favorite Indiana State Fair drink, only this one is spiked with vodka and lemon bitters. Liz Biro, Indianapolis Star, "Cake Bake Shop is finally open in Carmel, and it fulfills every sweet dream," 1 July 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

15 Sep 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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