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

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 His Parental Rights in Education bill faced intense vitriol, like when MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace suggested that his tactics are comparable to Russian soldiers raping kids in war. Lindsay Kornick, Fox News, 21 Apr. 2022 Clearly, Savannah Guthrie is willing to laugh off the insult, but this is just one example of the vitriol women often face on social media simply for existing in their bodies. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, 2 Apr. 2022 Plemons is the beating heart of Jane Campion's period Western as good-hearted George, weathering all manner of insults and toxic vitriol from his cruel cowboy brother Phil (Cumberbatch). Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 18 Mar. 2022 The Sixers crowd was fired up and — unlike last week when the fans’ vitriol toward Ben Simmons backfired with an embarrassing loss — this was a game to remember. Dan Gelston, ajc, 15 Mar. 2022 But speaking out against nude magazine impresario Hugh Hefner has roused far more vitriol, Masten says. Los Angeles Times, 28 Feb. 2022 The idea that there is some cabal of lefty Twitter power users convening at a summit to set the right level of ironic vitriol for their tweets, as if setting oil production quotas at OPEC, has always been absurd. Katherine Cross, Wired, 3 Feb. 2022 Negative attention and potential vitriol, particularly from other Black people was always in the back of his mind. NBC News, 31 Jan. 2022 Negative attention and potential vitriol, particularly from other Black people was always in the back of his mind. Addie Morfoot, Variety, 30 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Vitriol.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for vitriol


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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