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

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Other Words from bittersweet


bittersweetly adverb
bittersweetness noun

Examples of bittersweet in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The moment was bittersweet: one-year-old Abduweli is Meripet's only child in Turkey. Yanan Wang And Dake Kang, Fox News, "Empty places at the table: Uighur children missing in China," 20 Sep. 2018 The heart of this piece is its arrival at a few bars of repose near the end of the last movement, a moment of bittersweet, heart-stopping suspension. Marcus Overton,, "San Diego Symphony blazes through Shostakovich as Jahja Ling debuts as Conductor Laureate," 21 Apr. 2018 Still, the unsurprising ending is a little bittersweet. Dieter Bohn, The Verge, "Google’s Inbox app is shutting down in March 2019," 12 Sep. 2018 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,, "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,, "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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

With layers of graham crackers, bittersweet chocolate, and a billowy filling made of heavy cream, meringue and coconut, these dreamy bars will become your new campfire favorite. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Frozen S'mores," 14 Mar. 2019 But if its ending is bittersweet, Capote’s story underscores a basic fact of the holiday. Danny Heitman, WSJ, "An Ode to Holiday Companionship," 21 Dec. 2018 The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School football team won their home opener this weekend, but the victory was bittersweet. Frank Miles, Fox News, "Parkland high school wins first home football game since deadly shooting," 9 Sep. 2018 Add 3 ounces finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, and beat until ingredients come together. Adina Steiman, WSJ, "This Holiday Season’s Smartest Cookie," 5 Dec. 2018 And that adds a little tragedy, a little bittersweet aspect to their ongoing relationship. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," 9 Dec. 2018 The timing of this announcement is certainly quite bittersweet, after fans mourned the loss of screenwriter William Goldman last week. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "That PG-13 version of Deadpool 2 you’ve been asking for is coming—with Fred Savage," 19 Nov. 2018 Janel Parrish’s wedding to Chris Long was a bittersweet affair. Fox News, "Janel Parrish reveals father-in-law was killed by a drunk driver 2 weeks before her wedding," 24 Sep. 2018 This week started off on a bittersweet note for Little People, Big World star Amy Roloff. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Amy Roloff Bids Farewell to a Key Member of the 'Little People, Big World' Team," 7 Sep. 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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


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



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

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More from Merriam-Webster on bittersweet

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bittersweet

Spanish Central: Translation of 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).


to move or proceed with twists and turns

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