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 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 Although Gulf media are now falling in line with the decisions of princes and kings, observers question when and if the vitriol and fevered nationalism fed to their publics the past four years will dissipate. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, "End of yearslong Saudi-Qatar feud reunites families, and a region," 13 Jan. 2021 Some, like a dear friend of mine, refuses to make their vote public because of the vitriol on social media. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Why I voted for LaTroy Hawkins on my Baseball Hall of Fame ballot," 25 Jan. 2021 The former royals are reportedly moving away from social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook), likely a response to the overwhelming vitriol that Meghan constantly received online. Ineye Komonibo,, "Keeping Up With Meghan & Harry Just Got That Much Harder," 11 Jan. 2021 But the vitriol that Clare has been subjected to because of The Bachelorette has been nothing short of ridiculous. Ineye Komonibo,, "Please Stop Bullying Clare Crawley," 30 Nov. 2020 Our health as a nation and our actual mental health are drowning in the vitriol. Samantha Boardman, WSJ, "A Divided Nation: One Psychiatrist’s Advice on Lowering the Temperature," 15 Dec. 2020 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 match was disappearing from the clutches of the referee von Hertzka, and his own authority was continuously being undermined by aggression and vitriol from both sides., "World Cup Countdown: 18 Weeks to Go - Remembering the Infamous 'Battle of Bordeaux'," 12 Feb. 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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Time Traveler for vitriol

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

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Statistics for vitriol

Last Updated

23 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Vitriol.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for vitriol



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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