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 vitriolic (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 Even before the pandemic receded, the vitriol was back. The Economist, "Too many setbacks A historian sets out to explain Spain’s tumultuous past," 20 June 2020 The online vitriol began earlier this week when Hey said that Apple was forcing it to make changes so that Apple would get a cut of its sales. NBC News, "Apple's app store is suddenly a flashpoint in the Big Tech debate," 18 June 2020 Many of the e-mails released Monday are laced with profanity, showing the vitriol directed at NOAA leadership following the September 6 statement, which was not signed by any official. Andrew Freedman,, "As a busy hurricane season looms, NOAA’s credibility has taken a hit, e-mails show," 2 June 2020 Meanwhile, abusive vitriol directed at Meghan on social media continues, forcing the palace to block internet trolls posting offensive messages on royal social media channels. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Harry & Meghan's 2nd wedding anniversary: Timeline of what went right – and what went wrong," 19 May 2020 Anti-vaccine sentiment was rising worldwide—and threatening public health—even before the COVID-19 pandemic, but fear and uncertainty around the unknown virus is likely to give it new vitriol. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "'No One in the World Is Safe Until Everybody's Safe.' Why a Globally Accessible Vaccine Is Crucial to Ending the COVID-19 Pandemic," 15 May 2020 Fauci, one of the few officials willing to publicly counter President Trump’s misstatements about the virus, is no stranger to vitriol from the right., "Jared Kushner clarifies after saying he’s ‘not sure’ he can commit to date for presidential election," 13 May 2020 But if left unchecked, the vitriol risks isolating China internationally, just as the Communist Party seeks to use the pandemic to promote itself as a global leader. Vivian Wang, New York Times, "As Coronavirus Fades in China, Nationalism and Xenophobia Flare," 16 Apr. 2020 Or Trump's vitriol might lie in a more simple and humorous explanation. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "President Trump's shots at GM have left company insiders deeply troubled," 1 Apr. 2020

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for vitriol

Last Updated

22 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Vitriol.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for vitriol


How to pronounce vitriol (audio)

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

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