bit·​ter·​sweet | \ ˈbi-tər-ˌswēt How to pronounce bittersweet (audio) \

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



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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from bittersweet


bittersweetly adverb
bittersweetness noun

Examples of bittersweet in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Dump two cups each of semisweet chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, bittersweet chocolate chips and white chocolate chips in a big cast-iron skillet. al, "Peepza: There are some decent Peeps recipes out there. This isn’t one of them.," 4 Apr. 2021 Still, the undefeated season felt a little bittersweet for the Trojans, who were determined to compete for a state title this year after capturing last year’s Division 1 South sectional crown., "Bridgewater-Raynham girls’ basketball caps 12-0 finish with Southeast Conference title," 11 Feb. 2021 The first episode is nostalgic and a little bittersweet, but not exactly urgent. James Poniewozik, New York Times, "‘The Real World’ Revisited: When Reality Had Bite," 5 Mar. 2021 In a bittersweet and moving speech on Sunday night, Chadwick Boseman's widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, accepted his Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, "Chadwick Boseman's Wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, Accepts His Golden Globe Win," 1 Mar. 2021 Josh O'Connor gave a bittersweet and moving performance as Prince Charles... but Al Pacino as a gruff and growly Nazi killer? David Canfield,, "Golden Globes 2021 winner predictions: EW picks who should and who will win," 22 Feb. 2021 On December 19, Reynolds shared a bittersweet, but heartfelt message regarding how his family of five plans to celebrate the holidays this year as everyone is encouraged to stay home in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Natasha Reda, Glamour, "Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively's Kids Will Be Celebrating Christmas Differently This Year," 20 Dec. 2020 Once boiling, add 3 ounces (90 grams) bittersweet chocolate (72% or 85%) and 2 tsp. Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, Bon Appétit, "Brigadeiros Are My Rich, Fudgy Holiday Gift of Choice," 9 Dec. 2020 The safety concerns as a result of the ongoing pandemic have made the overall holiday season bittersweet, Mike Boz said. Bianna Golodryga, CNN, "One college student shares why he trekked home for Thanksgiving, and what he's doing to stay safe," 27 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective For many, the country beginning to open up and vaccinations becoming more widely available is bittersweet. Jhodie-ann Williams, CNN, "What we can't wait to do when the pandemic is over," 13 Apr. 2021 At a table with his parents, Nancy and Pete, and wife Susan, Seiler says the closure is bittersweet. Ben Crandell,, "The last suppers at Franco & Vinny’s restaurant in Fort Lauderdale," 9 Apr. 2021 In this case, the beginning was was bittersweet, the slow movement of George Walker's First String Quartet, evincing a wistful melancholy in the hands of four orchestra musicians. Rob Hubbard, Star Tribune, "Minnesota Orchestra strikes a hopeful note as it prepares to bring back audiences," 20 Mar. 2021 For Sheena Wagstaff, chairman of modern and contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the spring of 2020 was destined to be bittersweet. New York Times, "March 12, 2020: The Night the City Sighed to Sleep," 11 Mar. 2021 The effect is bittersweet, said 59-year-old Roncskevitz, who lives in Benicia, Calif., and saw the images online. Anna Almendrala, Los Angeles Times, "Making space for grief, an L.A. art exhibit honors healthcare workers killed by COVID-19," 11 Mar. 2021 After a federal judge ordered the university to integrate in 1958, university officials negotiated a deal that had to be bittersweet for Hawkins. Joy Wallace Dickinson,, "Hawkins held to his dreams, opened doors wide for others," 28 Feb. 2021 The menu’s constant changes feel a little bittersweet, especially when something’s really, really phenomenal, like the chè bắp. Soleil Ho,, "S.F.’s dorky new Viet pop-up is home-cooking nostalgia at its caramel-braised best," 10 Dec. 2020 For Booboo Stewart, the release of Amazon Prime Video's Paradise City is bittersweet. Rosy Cordero,, "Booboo Stewart says Paradise City shows a side of Cameron Boyce 'not a lot of people got to see'," 25 Mar. 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of bittersweet


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1576, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bittersweet

Time Traveler for bittersweet

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for bittersweet

Last Updated

18 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bittersweet.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for bittersweet



English Language Learners Definition of bittersweet

: having both bitter and sweet flavors
: combining sadness and happiness


bit·​ter·​sweet | \ ˈbi-tər-ˌswēt How to pronounce bittersweet (audio) \

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



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.


bit·​ter·​sweet | \ ˈbit-ər-ˌswēt, ˌbit-ər-ˈ How to pronounce bittersweet (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on bittersweet

Nglish: Translation of bittersweet for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about bittersweet

Comments on bittersweet

What made you want to look up bittersweet? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!