bitter

adjective
bit·​ter | \ ˈbi-tər \

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 \ 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 \ 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 White House says the president will call for optimism and unity in Tuesday's State of the Union address, using the moment to attempt a reset after two years of bitter partisanship. Julie Pace, The Seattle Times, "Trump to call for unity, face skepticism in State of Union," 4 Feb. 2019 Tuesday’s midterms were among the most bitter in years, with Trump stoking conservatives’ fears of caravans of immigrants traversing Mexico and inaccurately painting Democrats as broadly striving to bring socialism to the U.S. Alan Fram, The Seattle Times, "GOP keeps Senate control for 2 more years, triumph for Trump," 7 Nov. 2018 My Brilliant Friend is warm and nostalgic, sure, but also never afraid to complicate its warmth and nostalgia with a bitter dose of reality. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "The 7 best TV shows of 2018," 26 Dec. 2018 Ingredients: 1 oz Cynar (PS: Cynar is a bitter aperitif made with artichoke that has richer flavors of chicory, coffee, and chocolate) 1 oz Punt e Mes ½ oz Fresh orange juice 1 tsp. Talia Abbas, SELF, "How to Throw a Laid-Back Holiday Party at Home, from the Team at A Summer Day Cafe," 6 Dec. 2018 These two brothers, who grew up in the same bitter house with two distant parents, have to come to terms with what war means to them. Candice Frederick, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Is Us Season 3 Episode 8: Miguel Claps Back," 21 Nov. 2018 Although less popular, Robusta tastes slightly more bitter and contains more caffeine. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "21 Surprising Coffee Facts That Will Perk Up Your Afternoon," 3 Dec. 2018 Watch the interview here: Thankfully, Beckham doesn't seem bitter about never receiving her official invite to join the ladies on their tour. Stacey Leasca, Glamour, "The Spice Girls Apparently 'Forgot' to Invite Victoria Beckham on Their Reunion Tour," 11 Nov. 2018 The deal is designed to end a bitter 27-year dispute over rights to the Macedonia title and to remove Greek objections to its northern neighbor becoming a member of NATO and the European Union. Konstantin Testorides, Fox News, "Thousands march to promote vote for Macedonia name deal," 16 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 My not-so-inner lush loves the unpretentious split of Prosecco that always accompanies my champagne cocktail with Abyssinian bitters. Shakirah Simley, Bon Appetit, "The Harlem of the West: What’s to Become of The Fillmore?," 6 June 2018 Makes 1 drink 1-1/2 ounces Dolin dry vermouth 1/2 ounce Cocchi Rosso Vermouth di Torino or other powerful sweet vermouth 1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur 2 dashes aromatic bittersLemon peel, for garnish Chill an Old Fashioned glass. Anne Brockhoff, kansascity, "Low-alcohol, no-alcohol cocktails trending in KC | The Kansas City Star," 9 Jan. 2018 Try the Sister Carrie cocktail with gin, cream de banana, vanilla syrup, egg white and lemon or the Razor’s Edge with rye, apple and cranberry spiced with clove and cinnamon, lemon, demi and orange bitters (each $13). Audrey Gorden, RedEye Chicago, "Chicago date idea: Dinner at The Kennison then drinks at The J. Parker," 1 Dec. 2017 The Farro Risotto and Broccoli Rabe paired with a Smoked Apple (Peloton de la Muerte mescal, lemon juice, brown sugar, apple cider and angostura bitters) makes for an exceptional happy hour. Kristen Bateman, Harper's BAZAAR, "A Week of New York's Chicest Restaurants with Fireplaces," 10 Nov. 2014 Whole Milk 4 dashes Angostura bitters 1 tablespoon Jell-O Vanilla Pudding Mix Nutmeg and Orange, grated for garnish Method Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Fox News, "Shake up your egg nog," 22 Dec. 2012 Use bitters to make a complex drink Bitters are concentrated spirits infused with herbs, fruits, leaves or roots. Kellie Hwang, azcentral, "Mocktail recipes: How to make tasty non-alcoholic drinks for your Fourth of July party," 3 July 2018 Cheshire Cat: Champagne, orange bitters, butterfly pea extract, lemon juice. Kellie Hwang, azcentral, "Alice in Wonderland-themed bar Hatter and Hare now open in Phoenix," 12 July 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

17 Feb 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 \
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
bitterness noun

bitter

adjective
bit·​ter | \ ˈbit-ər \

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 sense 2, sour, sweet

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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