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

But as Monday’s meeting showed, by making the two countries the chief targets of its vitriol—including stinging import tariffs—Mr. Andrea Thomas, WSJ, "German and Chinese Leaders Hail Rules-Based Trade System, With Eye to U.S.," 9 July 2018 Christie, speaking for almost 90 minutes, communicated none of his trademark vitriol for the legislature’s ruling party., "Christie's Glass Half Full in Departing Speech to Lawmakers," 9 Jan. 2018 To the left of their vitriol is their full name, place of work, and a picture of them incongruously snuggling an infant or beloved pet. Noelle Hancock, Cosmopolitan, "I Wrote an Essay About Moving to an Island and Scooping Ice Cream. I Wasn't Prepared for the Response.," 25 Aug. 2016 Bill Schuette, Michigan's attorney general, was the main focus of protesters’ vitriol. Detroit Free Press, "Protesters slam GOP on healthcare, wages at Michigan governor debate," 28 June 2018 But in this production there is more vitriol than love between them from the very beginning. Jordan Riefe, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Henry IV': Theater Review," 9 June 2018 Of course, there was bit of vitriol aimed at Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who is known for paying his stars smaller wages., "PHOTO: Alexis Sanchez Low-Key Defends His Impending Move to Manchester United on Twitter," 21 Jan. 2018 Reporters Without Borders said of Trump's vitriol towards the press, according to HuffPost., "Area Man Who Called Journalists Enemies Offers Thoughts & Prayers For Murdered Reporters," 29 June 2018 And then there’s Elon Musk, similarly trailed by a toxic mob wielding vitriol and rape threats, many of them specifically targeting journalists. Felix Salmon, WIRED, "Elon Musk and the Unnerving Influence of Twitter's Power Users," 5 June 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

4 Nov 2018

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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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a private place of worship

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