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

On the day that but for a bitter labor dispute would have been the opening of their annual season, the musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and their conductor still played to large audience at a West Baltimore church. Ian Duncan, baltimoresun.com, "BSO’s opener was postponed amid a labor dispute. Instead musicians played to crowd at West Baltimore church.," 14 Sep. 2019 The airline and union have been locked in a bitter dispute over pay. Doug Criss, CNN, "5 things to know for September 9: Afghanistan, Bahamas, Hong Kong, British Airways," 9 Sep. 2019 The bitter dispute has taken Britain into new political territory. Stephen Castle, New York Times, "Brexit Vote Goes Against Boris Johnson, and He Calls for an Election," 3 Sep. 2019 As a result of the ongoing battle, during which Rubie claimed Duncan had not left his room for four days, the PFA will now fulfil a mediation role, and a meeting to try and settle the increasingly bitter dispute could be held within 48 hours. SI.com, "PFA Set to Step in and Mediate Ugly Dispute Between Liverpool & Bobby Duncan," 30 Aug. 2019 The bitter dispute at the party’s annual summer meeting in San Francisco threatened to reignite criticism on the left that Democratic leaders are squelching debate on one of the most important issues to young voters. Casey Tolan, The Mercury News, "Democratic National Committee votes against climate change debate at San Francisco meeting," 24 Aug. 2019 The official’s disappearance comes amid weeks of heated protest between mainland China and Hong Kong over a bitter dispute involving political reform and police brutality. Fox News, "Hong Kong British consulate employee detained in China; officials 'extremely concerned'," 21 Aug. 2019 Instead, the North has launched four short-range missile tests over the past two weeks, raising alarms in Seoul and Tokyo, which are locked in their own bitter trade dispute that has essentially frozen diplomatic relations between them. Author: David Nakamura, Simon Denyer, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump again appears to take North Korea’s side against his own military, allies," 10 Aug. 2019 And, unlike two years ago when Bevin's bitter dispute with county officials over the value of the property began, this time the board got to see all of the property. Tom Loftus, The Courier-Journal, "Property tax appeals board gets a better look at Gov. Matt Bevin's mansion this time," 31 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Category Five, with Appleton rum, banana liqueur, orange, lime, spiced cherry and bitters, is discounted to $5 during rainy weather. Leeanne Griffin, courant.com, "Tyler Anderson moves into New Haven, manning not one, but two restaurants at The Blake Hotel," 9 Sep. 2019 This strong cocktail features bourbon, blackstrap rum, Cynar, demerara, and bitters. Birmingham Magazine, al, "Birmingham magazine’s Best and Worst of Birmingham," 3 Sep. 2019 Taking only slightly more prep than a steady pour of tequila over a tray of stocky glasses, apéritif shots like the ones below rely on simple, easy-to-execute recipes, and lower alcohol by volume ingredients, like vermouth, wine, and bitters. Rebekah Peppler, Bon Appétit, "You Should Be Doing More Shots," 26 Aug. 2019 The $25 cocktail of smooth and spicy Basil Hayden’s bourbon, cardamon, and chile-cocao-coffee Corazón bitters. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: A love affair with Michael Mina’s cooking heats up with International Smoke," 22 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, 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, 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

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

13 Oct 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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