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 Tenev and his colleagues were taken aback by the vitriol directed at them. Sheelah Kolhatkar, The New Yorker, 10 May 2021 The vitriol directed at Meghan reflects a larger cultural problem with disclosures of suffering, trauma and discrimination, and underscores why many people are so reluctant to speak about their experiences. Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY, 11 Mar. 2021 But the fact my kids saw a lot of the vitriol and hatred towards me, that in itself was taxing and hard. Ed O’bannon, Los Angeles Times, 1 July 2021 But his statement was a taste of the vitriol sure to flow from his camp if charges are brought against his organization. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 29 June 2021 Ellsberg had no such documents, but White House officials practically competed to gin up the vitriol and panic. Christian Appy, The Conversation, 23 Apr. 2021 The other surprising thing is just the vitriol and the hate that gets thrown at these women. Neha Prakash, Marie Claire, 8 Apr. 2021 In one of the most heart-wrenching moments from the interview, Meghan revealed that the media vitriol and lack of support from the palace heavily affected her mental health. Rachel Yang,, 8 Mar. 2021 Fox’s vitriol and distortions are simply viewed as part of the landscape now. Ben Smith, New York Times, 17 Jan. 2021

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

17 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Vitriol.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 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)

More from Merriam-Webster on vitriol Encyclopedia article about vitriol


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