bittersweet

noun
bit·ter·sweet | \ ˈbi-tər-ˌswēt \

Definition of bittersweet 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that is bittersweet especially : pleasure accompanied by suffering or regret … the bittersweet of their long separation … —Christopher Morley

2 botany

a : a poisonous Eurasian woody vine (Solanum dulcamara) of the nightshade family that has purple flowers and oval reddish berries and is naturalized (see naturalize sense 4) in North America

b : a North American poisonous woody vine (Celastrus scandens) of the staff-tree family having clusters of small greenish flowers succeeded by yellow capsules (see capsule entry 1 sense 2a) that open when ripe and disclose the scarlet aril

bittersweet

adjective

Definition of bittersweet (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : being at once bitter and sweet especially : pleasant but including or marked by elements of suffering or regret a bittersweet ballad bittersweet memories

2 : of or relating to a prepared chocolate containing little sugar bittersweet chocolate chips

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Other words from bittersweet

Adjective

bittersweetly adverb
bittersweetness noun

Examples of bittersweet in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For Gulati, too, Wednesday’s win allowed him to come full circle from the Qatar defeat—though not without its own tinges of bittersweet. Grant Wahl, SI.com, "World Cup 2026 Vote Provides the Jolt U.S. Soccer Sorely Needed," 13 June 2018 Several students said the experience of graduating may be one of the most challenging and bittersweet of their four-year journey. Alejandra Reyes-velarde, latimes.com, "Glendale High graduates begin their futures with words of wisdom," 8 June 2018 Build the backbone To make the actual wreath frame, use willow or a vine like wisteria, grape or bittersweet. Molly Marquand, Good Housekeeping, "A Step-By-Step Guide To Creating Your Own Foraged Evergreen Wreath," 8 Dec. 2017 The novel itself is every bit as powerful and atmospheric and addictively page-turning as all the ones that came before it, but the final pages are extra bittersweet because there will be no more. Steve Donoghue, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Greeks Bearing Gifts' will be the last in the popular 'Bernie Gunther' series begun in Nazi Germany," 5 Apr. 2018 Non-native invasives like autumn olive, multiflora rose, and bittersweet had spread throughout land that had once been pasture. Denise Coffey, Courant Community, "A Conservation Success Story: A Landowner's Perspective," 12 Dec. 2017 Her freshman year bookended with another chance to see her sister play, though this one was a shade bittersweet. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "With a different position (and school) than her talented sister, Oconomowoc's Alden leads volleyball team to state," 2 Nov. 2017 For the team behind the mission, losing their spacecraft is bittersweet: Many are sad that the mission is over but excited to see the groundbreaking science provided by unprecedented proximity to Saturn during the final dive. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "The Cassini mission is ending," 15 Sep. 2017 Leaving for part of Season 6 was bittersweet for Clapton. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Game of Thrones," 28 Aug. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

For Kathy Masaoka, Tuesday’s ruling was particularly bittersweet. Teresa Watanabe, latimes.com, "Supreme Court denunciation of ruling upholding WWII internment bittersweet, Japanese Americans say," 27 June 2018 His second mission was shorter, 12 days, and bittersweet. Christian Davenport, Houston Chronicle, "What does it mean to be a NASA astronaut in the celebrity space age of Elon Musk and Richard Branson?," 15 June 2018 Her victory proved bittersweet; and the ruling—known as Rock v. Carney—went on the provide the justification for decades more abuses. Kim Kelly, The New Republic, "A Forgotten War on Women," 22 May 2018 Should Telegram continue to rise, however, and one day emerge with the kind of pseudo-governmental clout exercised by the largest tech powers, there will be something bittersweet in its success. Jacob Silverman, Longreads, "Private Telegram, Public Strife," 3 July 2018 Prince William celebrated his 36th birthday yesterday, but the occasion was bittersweet, considering its connection to his late mother. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince William's Birthday Had a Heartbreaking Connection to Princess Diana," 22 June 2018 An old aristocratic order, at once morally flexible and rigidly traditional, is giving way to something new, and the change is bittersweet, containing both progress and tragedy. New York Times, "How Luchino Visconti Made History Sing," 7 June 2018 The victory was a little bittersweet for Falcons girls' head coach Peter Kim, who will be without Icheva (Olympic training commitment) and Alex Garas (shoulder injury) at league finals. Andrew J. Campa, latimes.com, "Crescenta Valley claims pair of shared Pacific League swim titles," 26 Apr. 2018 Much has happened since the country won its last World Cup two decades ago, making this a bittersweet moment in a country always romancing the past. Laurent Dubois, The Atlantic, "France’s Ghosts Return for the World Cup," 14 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bittersweet.' 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 bittersweet

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1576, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of bittersweet was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for bittersweet

bittersweet

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of bittersweet

: having both bitter and sweet flavors

: combining sadness and happiness

bittersweet

noun
bit·ter·sweet | \ ˈbi-tər-ˌswēt \

Kids Definition of bittersweet

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a poisonous vine originally of Europe and Asia with purple flowers and red berries

2 : a poisonous North American woody climbing plant with orange seed capsules that open when ripe to reveal red seeds

bittersweet

adjective

Kids Definition of bittersweet (Entry 2 of 2)

: being partly bitter or sad and partly sweet or happy He had bittersweet memories of summer camp.

bittersweet

noun
bit·ter·sweet | \ ˈbit-ər-ˌswēt, ˌbit-ər-ˈ \

Medical Definition of bittersweet 

: a sprawling poisonous weedy nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) with purple flowers and oval reddish orange berries that is the source of dulcamara

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