vit·​ri·​ol | \ ˈvi-trē-əl How to pronounce vitriol (audio) \

Definition of vitriol

1 : bitterly harsh or caustic language or criticism political commentators spewing angry vitriol Rumor has always played a role in politics, but rarely have the backstage operatives been so adroit, and so cynical, in their use of vitriol.— Walter Shapiro Cascades of multisyllabic vitriol engulf us as Conrad communicates his utter loathing of television …— Stanley Marcus
2a : a sulfate of any of various metals (such as copper, iron, or zinc) especially : a glassy hydrate of such a sulfate

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Other Words from vitriol

vitriolic \ ˌvi-​trē-​ˈä-​lik How to pronounce vitriol (audio) \ adjective
vitriolic personal attacks a vitriolic debate/dispute

Examples of vitriol in a Sentence

His speech was full of political vitriol. a film critic noted for the vitriol and sometimes outright cruelty of his pronouncements
Recent Examples on the Web Low-flying planes, machine guns, and the massive property destruction and hundreds of lives lost were among the ways the white establishment tried to implement its homegrown and unlawful display of racist vitriol towards Black people. Kevin L. Clark, Essence, 2 June 2021 Scott has been the target of vitriol since his rebuttal of President Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress last week. Fox News, 5 May 2021 The 2020 season, abbreviated and fanless due to COVID-19, shielded them from the brunt of the vitriol. Tyler Stafford, Chron, 1 Apr. 2021 Players like Westbrook and Young have largely showed restraint when receiving vitriol from fans. New York Times, 27 May 2021 And the mercurial Lord Farquad wouldn’t have such a square jaw and prominent browline without Katzenberg developing such vitriol for his former boss. Bethy Squires, Vulture, 19 May 2021 North Korean propaganda has long struck a familiar chord, spewing vitriol toward imperialist outsiders and fawning over the ruling Kim family’s achievements. Andrew Jeong, WSJ, 4 Dec. 2020 Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union of Reform Judaism, said American Jews believe they are being singled out for attacks and vitriol, yet also see antisemitism as part of a broader national problem of bigotry and intolerance. David Crary, Star Tribune, 11 May 2021 The vitriol intensified when Houston’s lineup was introduced, focused on the four lineup regulars remaining from 2017 — Altuve, Bregman, Yuli Gurriel and Carlos Correa., 4 May 2021

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for vitriol

Middle English, from Anglo-French vitriole, from Medieval Latin vitriolum, alteration of Late Latin vitreolum, neuter of vitreolus glassy, from Latin vitreus vitreous

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Time Traveler for vitriol

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

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Statistics for vitriol

Last Updated

11 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Vitriol.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for vitriol



English Language Learners Definition of vitriol

formal : harsh and angry words


vit·​ri·​ol | \ ˈvi-trē-əl How to pronounce vitriol (audio) \

Medical Definition of vitriol

1 : a sulfate of any of various metals (as copper, iron, or zinc)

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for vitriol Encyclopedia article about vitriol


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