caustic

adjective
caus·​tic | \ ˈkȯ-stik How to pronounce caustic (audio) \

Definition of caustic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : capable of destroying or eating away by chemical action : corrosive The chemical was so caustic that it ate through the pipe.
2 : marked by incisive sarcasm a caustic film review caustic humor
3 : relating to or being the surface or curve of a caustic (see caustic entry 2 sense 2)

caustic

noun

Definition of caustic (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a caustic agent: such as
a : a substance that burns or destroys organic tissue by chemical action
b : a strong corrosive alkali (such as sodium hydroxide)
2 : the envelope of rays emanating from a point and reflected or refracted by a curved surface

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Other Words from caustic

Adjective

caustically \ ˈkȯ-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce caustically (audio) \ adverb
causticity \ kȯ-​ˈsti-​sə-​tē How to pronounce causticity (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for caustic

Adjective

caustic, mordant, acrid, scathing mean stingingly incisive. caustic suggests a biting wit. caustic comments mordant suggests a wit that is used with deadly effectiveness. mordant reviews of the play acrid implies bitterness and often malevolence. acrid invective scathing implies indignant attacks delivered with fierce severity. a scathing satire

Did You Know?

Adjective

If you have a burning desire to know the origins of "caustic," you're already well on the way to figuring it out. "Caustic" was borrowed into English in the 14th century from the Latin causticus, which itself derives from the Greek kaustikos. "Kaustikos," in turn, comes from the Greek verb kaiein, meaning "to burn." Other "kaiein" descendants in English include "cautery" and "cauterize," "hypocaust" (an ancient Roman heating system), "causalgia" (a burning pain caused by nerve damage), and "encaustic" (a kind of paint which is heated after it's applied).

Examples of caustic in a Sentence

Adjective His [Roosevelt's] caustic cousin, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, called him a sissy and a mama's boy. — Garry Wills, Atlantic, April 1994 It was Schuyler's gift for satire and his caustic wit that distinguished his writings and led to his nickname, the Black Mencken. — Henry Louis Gates, Jr., New York Times Book Review, 20 Sept. 1992 Albert quailed before those caustic pronouncements, he shuddered and blanched and felt his stomach drop like a croquette into a vat of hot grease. — T. Coraghessan Boyle, Harper's, October 1987 The chemical was so caustic that it ate through the pipes. She wrote a caustic report about the decisions that led to the crisis.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The longtime chairwoman of Columbia Sportswear and the caustic star of the most memorable advertising campaign in outdoor apparel history, ran the company from 1970 to 1988, before handing over control to her son, Tim. oregonlive, "Oregon’s top 15 newsmakers of 2019," 29 Dec. 2019 What Pelosi called a sad and solemn moment for the country, coming in the first year after Democrats swept control of the House, unfolded in a caustic daylong session that showcased the nation’s divisions. SFChronicle.com, "House nears nighttime impeachment vote as Trump cries foul," 18 Dec. 2019 If Season 1 took a while to warm up to, Season 2 was masterful right out of the gate, in its caustic dissection of the 0.1 percent and its ability to find clashing shades of humanity within its characters. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The 15 Best TV Shows of 2019," 6 Dec. 2019 Making soap, for example, involves using lye, a caustic agent that requires careful handling and chemical-resistant gloves and goggles. Gemma Tarlach, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bounty of the bees extends far beyond honey for your tea - to lotions, balms and even drinks," 16 July 2019 But the lawmaker’s contribution went to the group’s Saviours’ Day, an annual weekend convention where Farrakhan has denounced Jews in caustic terms. Fenit Nirappil, Washington Post, "D.C. lawmaker accused of anti-Semitism donated to event where Farrakhan denounced Jews," 20 Apr. 2018 Two recent studies came to opposite conclusions about the same evidence of life in a caustic pool in Ethiopia. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Scientists Are Fighting Over One of the Hottest Places on Earth," 15 Nov. 2019 Between the layers of shell, the cashew’s nut oils are caustic. Melissa Howell, Quartz, "Cashew milk is saving animals—but it’s hurting humans," 29 Oct. 2019 In a caustic reply-all that foreshadowed his Trump administration ascent, Grogan expressed mock delight. Lev Facher, STAT, "How Joe Grogan, a former pharma lobbyist, upended Trump’s drug pricing agenda," 22 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun What McHugh favored was the fantastic, the caustic, the nakedly human, art with an irreverent or whimsical sense of humor, and art with little remove from raw physicality. Leah Ollman, latimes.com, "This Candy Store wasn't a candy store: Remembering a California gallery that made art stars," 3 July 2018 The Sympathizer is the caustic, hyper-verbal tale of a double agent embedded in California after the end of the war, sending information back to Vietnam about the activities of the men who are both his friends and enemies. Josephine Livingstone, New Republic, "Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Ghosts," 25 July 2017 Mr. Trump’s other mentor was the caustic and conniving McCarthy-era lawyer Roy Cohn, who counseled Mr. Trump never to give in or concede error. Glenn Thrush And Maggie Haberman, New York Times, "Why Letting Go, for Trump, Is No Small or Simple Task," 21 Mar. 2017

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

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for caustic

Adjective and Noun

Latin causticus, from Greek kaustikos, from kaiein to burn

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Time Traveler for caustic

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for caustic

Last Updated

8 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Caustic.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/caustic. Accessed 20 January 2020.

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More Definitions for caustic

caustic

adjective
How to pronounce caustic (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of caustic

: able to destroy or burn something by chemical action
: very harsh and critical

caustic

adjective
caus·​tic | \ ˈkȯ-stik How to pronounce caustic (audio) \

Kids Definition of caustic

1 : capable of eating away by chemical action : corrosive
2 : very harsh and critical caustic remarks

caustic

adjective
caus·​tic | \ ˈkȯ-stik How to pronounce caustic (audio) \

Medical Definition of caustic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: capable of destroying or eating away organic tissue and especially animal tissue by chemical action silver nitrate and sulfuric acid are caustic agents

Other Words from caustic

caustically \ -​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce caustically (audio) \ adverb
causticity \ kȯ-​ˈstis-​ət-​ē How to pronounce causticity (audio) \ noun, plural causticities

caustic

noun

Medical Definition of caustic (Entry 2 of 2)

: a caustic agent: as
a : a substance that burns or destroys organic tissue by chemical action : escharotic
b : a strong corrosive alkali (as sodium hydroxide)

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More from Merriam-Webster on caustic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for caustic

Spanish Central: Translation of caustic

Nglish: Translation of caustic for Spanish Speakers

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