scath·​ing | \ˈskā-ṯẖiŋ \

Definition of scathing 

: bitterly severe a scathing condemnation

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Other Words from scathing

scathingly adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for scathing

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

Examples of scathing in a Sentence

a scathing review of the book a scathing rebuttal of the latest theory concerning the assassination

Recent Examples on the Web

A day after the congressional elections last week, the special court in Baltimore issued a scathing opinion regarding a U.S. House district drawn in 2011 by Maryland’s Democratic leadership, then-Gov. Jess Bravin, WSJ, "Maryland to Appeal Gerrymandering Ruling, Setting Up New Supreme Court Battle," 15 Nov. 2018 Most recently, Justice Sotomayor delivered a scathing dissent when the court upheld Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban. Marilyn La Jeunesse, Teen Vogue, "Sonia Sotomayor's Tenure as a Supreme Court Justice Makes Latinx Law Students Hopeful for the Future," 12 Oct. 2018 In fact, since the last management shake up (in response to a scathing report), ITER seems to be hitting its construction targets regularly. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "A third dimension helps Tokamak fusion reactor avoid wall-destroying instability," 13 Sep. 2018 The district’s decision to appeal the takeover comes a month after interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis issued his recommendation along with the results of a scathing 14-month management audit. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "JCPS board will fight back against state takeover in appeal," 29 May 2018 Eight years after penning a scathing letter in response to LeBron James' first departure from Cleveland, team owner Dan Gilbert struck a much more appreciative tone Sunday night with James leaving the Cavaliers a second time. Matt Eppers, USA TODAY, "Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert thanks LeBron James in classy farewell letter," 2 July 2018 Kelli Ward, one of Representative McSally's main opponents in the Arizona Senate primary on Aug. 28, was more scathing in her assessment. Steve Peoples, The Christian Science Monitor, "GOP leaders split over 'compromise' immigration bill," 18 June 2018 In January, a scathing audit documented how Oregon officials repeatedly abandoned attempts to reform foster care, including since Brown took office in 2015. Hillary Borrud,, "Knute Buehler crashes Kate Brown's foster care news event," 8 May 2018 The Department of Homeland Security also launched a scathing attack on the Rounds-King bill ahead of Thursday's votes, in a move that stunned some senators. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "Mitch McConnell Is As Mitch McConnell Does," 15 Feb. 2018

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

1794, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for scathing

Last Updated

20 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scathing

The first known use of scathing was in 1794

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More Definitions for scathing



English Language Learners Definition of scathing

: very harsh or severe

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More from Merriam-Webster on scathing

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for scathing

Spanish Central: Translation of scathing

Nglish: Translation of scathing for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scathing for Arabic Speakers

Comments on scathing

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


noxious or harmful

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