Word of the Day : May 3, 2019


noun uh-SPAIR-uh-tee

What It Means

1 : roughness of manner or of temper : harshness of behavior or speech that expresses bitterness or anger

2 : rigor, severity

3 a : roughness of surface : unevenness

b : roughness of sound


When Shelia asked Roger to make a contribution, he glared and said with asperity, "I already contributed—thank you."

"[Charles Portis's True Grit is] one of those rare American novels that can be enjoyed by young readers for action and dialogue and by older readers for the lowdown wit and the wonderful asperity of the narrator Mattie Ross, an elderly skinflint who spins out the tale of her long-ago adolescent pursuit of the outlaw wastrel who killed her father." — Casey Seiler, The Times-Union (Albany, New York), 2 Sept. 2018

Did You Know?

The etymology of asperity is "rough." It is adapted from Middle English asprete, which was borrowed from the Anglo-French aspreté, and ultimately derives from the Latin word asper, which means "rough." Not only is asper the source of asperity, but it also underlies the English word exasperate (in fact, you can see asper nestled in the midst of that word). Although it is far less common than asperity and exasperate, the word asper itself is still occasionally used in English—it functions as a synonym of harsh, bitter, and stern.

Test Your Vocabulary

Fill in the blanks to complete a verb that means "to free from harshness": e _ _ lc _ r _ _ e.



More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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