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

Definition of vitriol

1 : something felt to resemble vitriol especially in caustic quality especially : virulence of feeling or of speech
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 vitriolic (audio) \ adjective

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

Over the past several years, the vitriol directed at members of the media has intensified in ways few Americans talk about any other professional community. Eugene Scott, Washington Post, "The Capital Gazette shooting and what’s wrong with the current public discourse about the media," 29 June 2018 Rokita, arguably the chief instigator of much of the vitriol in the race, flew into town with Vice President Mike Pence aboard Air Force Two and got a shout out from Trump. Maureen Groppe, Indianapolis Star, "8 takeaways from Trump's speech at Elkhart rally," 11 May 2018 As the 2016 presidential race ramped up, Agent Kuhn said, the vitriol in the militia group increased. Mitch Smith, New York Times, "Racist Terror Plot, or Just Idle Talk? Kansas Trial Hinges on the Answer," 16 Apr. 2018 And though many in the country are pessimistic in the wake of recent events and the vitriol spewed by all sides in the ongoing disputes and political discourse on social media, Mazibuko remains optimistic. Chuck Yarborough,, "Ladysmith Black Mambazo brings hope and harmony to Music Box," 21 Feb. 2018 The vitriol only intensified in the hours that followed, which baffled Aaron. The Washington Post,, "'Resist White Supremacy': A sign, a farm, and the fury that followed," 19 Feb. 2018 Beyond the bounds of facts and decency Even by the low standards of the vitriol going back and forth during the shutdown, a 30-second spot by the Trump campaign merits special condemnation. John Diaz, San Francisco Chronicle, "Last Word: Trump campaign goes low in immigration ad," 23 Jan. 2018 And the vitriol against Ford is not unlike the kind those who shared their stories using the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport, experienced. Sarah Stankorb, Glamour, "Are Hashtags Like #MeToo and #BelieveWomen Hurting or Helping Survivors?," 15 Oct. 2018 This newfound Puritan vitriol from the left is ludicrous. WSJ, "Men: Good Character Still Matters, as it Always Has," 5 Oct. 2018

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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Statistics for vitriol

Last Updated

6 May 2019

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Time Traveler for vitriol

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on vitriol

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for vitriol

Spanish Central: Translation of vitriol Encyclopedia article about vitriol

Comments on vitriol

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


something valued as if it were money

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