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 The vitriol has led to an increase in hate crimes in Maryland and across the country. Ovetta Wiggins, Washington Post, 24 Sep. 2022 The suspension spurred further vitriol toward the station and praise for Mester, whom viewers saw as advocating for Romero. Jonah Valdez, Los Angeles Times, 23 Sep. 2022 Never heard such vicious vitriol at a Baylor game about Baptists. Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 Sep. 2022 Sophia Nomvete, who is South African and Iranian, have been the subject of much of the racist vitriol. Kalhan Rosenblatt, NBC News, 8 Sep. 2022 Experts said the resurgence appears to be connected to the search of Mar-a-Lago and the ensuing vitriol toward the FBI. Laura L. Davis, USA TODAY, 7 Sep. 2022 However, the breakout star has refused to take the vitriol to heart, instead using it to fuel his performance. Emlyn Travis,, 3 Sep. 2022 The vitriol directed at Bernard hit home for this group of residents. Farah Yousry, Chicago Tribune, 21 Aug. 2022 Supporters worry about her treatment in a country where anti-American and anti-gay vitriol are deeply embedded in popular views and official propaganda. Ivan Nechepurenko,, 4 Aug. 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

27 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Vitriol.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Oct. 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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