vit·​ri·​ol | \ ˈvi-trē-əl How to pronounce vitriol (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from vitriol

vitriolic \ ˌvi-​trē-​ˈä-​lik How to pronounce vitriolic (audio) \ 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

Over the past several years, the vitriol directed at members of the media has intensified in ways few Americans talk about any other professional community. Eugene Scott, Washington Post, "The Capital Gazette shooting and what’s wrong with the current public discourse about the media," 29 June 2018 And though many in the country are pessimistic in the wake of recent events and the vitriol spewed by all sides in the ongoing disputes and political discourse on social media, Mazibuko remains optimistic. Chuck Yarborough,, "Ladysmith Black Mambazo brings hope and harmony to Music Box," 21 Feb. 2018 That Miller suffered a probable career-ending left knee dislocation on the play, and the fact the initial touchdown ruling gave the Bears the lead in the third quarter, only added to the vitriol locally. Rich Campbell,, "NFL to consider restoring 'football move' requirement for catch," 21 Mar. 2018 All social networks contain vitriol and bigotry, but not all social networks are equally associated with these things in the public imagination. Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, "Reddit and the Struggle to Detoxify the Internet," 12 Mar. 2018 However, that vitriol over pandering to women in such a cliche way wasn't enough to stop another food and beverage company from making a similar choice. Stacey Leasca, Glamour, "Johnnie Walker Invites Women to Drink Scotch With New 'Jane Walker' Label," 26 Feb. 2018 The struggles led to an endless stream of vitriol from a frustrated fan base. Edgar Thompson,, "UF QB Feleipe Franks showcases running ability during Gators' spring game," 15 Apr. 2018 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 Kaufman, more of a performance artist than a comedian, was utterly committed to his elaborate comic schemes (such as wrestling women onstage, despite intense vitriol from audiences). Tal Rosenberg, Chicago Reader, "The madness to Jim Carrey’s method," 10 Jan. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about vitriol

Statistics for vitriol

Last Updated

6 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vitriol

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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)

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up vitriol? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to take the place or position of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!