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 Home fans booed their team off the pitch at the final whistle and chanted throughout the game for a change in the club's hierarchy -- with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward on the receiving end of much of vitriol. Ben Church, CNN, "Manchester United slammed after 'embarrassing' Burnley defeat in the English Premier League," 23 Jan. 2020 The injection of vitriol undercuts the substantive political critique that is supposed to occur during these segments. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "After being trashed in the Times and taking McSally to task, Meghan McCain is heading home," 17 Jan. 2020 Mastodon is being described as the paradisiacal social media platform free from vitriol, abusive trolling, and targeted advertising. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "This chart from Mastodon’s creator shows just how angry some Indian Twitter users are," 11 Nov. 2019 The first new post-exodus contributor, Alan Goldsher, wrote one story, was overwhelmed with vitriol on Twitter, and immediately quit. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, "The Ham-Handed, Money-Driven Mangling of Sports Illustrated and Deadspin," 3 Nov. 2019 Even the most benign videos of a tech toy’s unboxing all too easily descends into vitriol, sexism and discriminatory outbursts. Ciku Kimeria, Quartz Africa, "YouTube music video comments are the safe space for the pan-African romantic in all of us," 24 Dec. 2019 Even after two and a half months of sparring, the complaints by Republicans reached new levels of vitriol. Nicholas Fandos, New York Times, "Democrats Signal Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress Charges Against Trump," 9 Dec. 2019 Right now, there's a lot of vitriol in Washington there's a lot of reasons for it. CBS News, "Transcript: David Rubenstein on "Face the Nation", December 1, 2019," 1 Dec. 2019 Their public struggles with mental health earned them both a horrifying amount of vitriol. Self, "No, You Shouldn’t Call Someone ‘Crazy.’ But Do We Have to Ban the Word Entirely?," 27 Nov. 2019

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

11 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Vitriol.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 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

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Spanish Central: Translation of vitriol Encyclopedia article about vitriol

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