vit·ri·ol | \ ˈvi-trē-əl \

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

b : oil of vitriol

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Other words from vitriol

vitriolic \ˌvi-trē-ˈä-lik \ 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

The Kremlin subjected McFaul and his embassy staff to harassment and vitriol that tore up the conventions of international diplomacy. Daniel Beer, New York Times, "Does Vladimir Putin Speak for the Russian People?," 6 July 2018 In private conversations, Trump lashes out regularly at Attorney General Jeff Sessions with a vitriol that stuns members of his staff. Author: Mark Landler, Maggie Haberman, Anchorage Daily News, "Analysis: Chaos theory in Oval Office is taking a toll," 2 Mar. 2018 These five stories give us a reprieve from the head-desk-inducing vitriol of current events while bringing levity to these sagging summer days. Garrett Mitchell, azcentral, "Five feel-good Arizona stories that have gone viral in 2018 (so far)," 10 July 2018 Today, the Korean people sit on the frontline as a mercurial U.S. President fires off the occasional 280-characters of vitriol on social media. Time, "'Our Hands Are Already Full.' For Young South Koreans, the Inter-Korea Summit Is Just Another Thing to Worry About," 25 Apr. 2018 This was never about Hannity vs. Jimmy Kimmel, here’s why: The level of vitriol against President Trump and his family is really sickening. Patrick Shanley, The Hollywood Reporter, "Sean Hannity Responds to Jimmy Kimmel's "Forced, Disney" Apology, Invites ABC Host to His Show," 10 Apr. 2018 There are many, many people whose very humanity invites vitriol, who receive it day in and day out and have for years. Heidi Stevens,, "In a time of hate, your civility lectures aren't helping anyone," 28 June 2018 As the executive committee hosts a Facebook Live for the rest of the school’s parents, the torrent of their vitriol musters so much momentum as to become like a physical force in the room. Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle, "Aurora’s ‘Eureka Day’ goes from ‘so Berkeley’ to universal," 22 Apr. 2018 Behind all the chaos, outrage and vitriol, there’s a bonding that’s truly inspiring. Hal Boedeker,, "Florida Film Festival: Female directors gauge progress," 11 Apr. 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

9 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vitriol

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

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More Definitions for vitriol



English Language Learners Definition of vitriol

: harsh and angry words


vit·ri·ol | \ ˈvi-trē-əl \

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

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the setting in which something occurs

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