Definition of bitter in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbidər/


1Having a sharp, pungent taste or smell; not sweet: the raw berries have an intensely bitter flavor
More example sentences
  • They all exhibit sour, salty, sweet, and bitter tastes or can be any combination of the four.
  • I sniffed at the mix of soap and sharp bitter smells.
  • Chamomile flower (Matricaria spp.) has a pleasantly bitter and sweet taste.
sharp, acid, acidic, acrid, tart, sour, biting, unsweetened, vinegary
technical acerbic
1.1(Of chocolate) dark and unsweetened.
Example sentences
  • I do like a few chunks of very dark, bitter chocolate, however, especially when paired with a suitable wine.
  • From a nutritional perspective, I think dark, bitter chocolate gets the edge because it is relatively low in sugar.
  • A starkly savoury wine, this Vacqueyras has a cool, sweet bouquet and a wash with dark bitter chocolate tones, raspberry and spice.
2(Of people or their feelings or behavior) angry, hurt, or resentful because of one’s bad experiences or a sense of unjust treatment: I don’t feel jealous or bitter
More example sentences
  • Mix in a third person and there are going to be hurt feelings and bitter resentment over not getting the pork fried rice.
  • And there is anger as well as joy, bitter resentment as well as compassion, above all a sense of nagging grief.
  • It would be easy to have negative feelings at this moment in time but I think you only hurt yourself and become bitter and resentful.
resentful, embittered, aggrieved, begrudging, rancorous, spiteful, jaundiced, ill-disposed, sullen, sour, churlish, morose, petulant, peevish, with a chip on one's shoulder
2.1(Of a conflict, argument, or opponent) full of anger and acrimony: a bitter, five-year legal battle
More example sentences
  • Those veterans had served in several conflicts including the bitter in-fighting of Algeria and the desert war in the Sahara.
  • Unsurprisingly, her first full international against bitter rivals England in 1973 is one she will always remember.
  • The predicted bitter disputes - legal, constitutional and inter-party - have not materialised.
acrimonious, virulent, angry, rancorous, spiteful, vicious, vitriolic, savage, ferocious, hate-filled, venomous, poisonous, acrid, nasty, ill-natured
3(Often used for emphasis) painful or unpleasant to accept or contemplate: today’s decision has come as a bitter blow
More example sentences
  • While defeat to the bottom team is a bitter blow, and a cruel disappointment at the end of a four game winning sequence, it is not a cue for despair.
  • It was a bitter blow, because we're ranked second in Europe and I'm sure we would have done well.
  • The news will have come as a bitter blow to council chiefs who were hoping to improve upon their ‘weak’ assessment after the first preliminary report emerged this summer.
painful, unpleasant, disagreeable, nasty, cruel, awful, distressing, upsetting, harrowing, heartbreaking, heart-rending, agonizing, traumatic, tragic, chilling
formal grievous
4(Of wind, cold, or weather) intensely cold: a bitter wind blowing from the east
More example sentences
  • If we can afford it, we escape the cold and bitter winds of northern Alberta to the soul-restoring warmth and relaxation of the tropics.
  • The capital is again bearing the brunt of the bitter weather with freezing winds, rain and hail showers.
  • Cold nights, bitter rain, the fear of predators, nothing would make me take that final step inside.
freezing, icy, arctic, glacial;
biting, piercing, penetrating, raw, wintry


1British Beer that is strongly flavored with hops and has a bitter taste.
Example sentences
  • Lager and bitter are different types of beer, commercially more different than red and white wine, but perhaps not as different as whisky and gin.
  • Beers include Fullers' London Pride and the local Warwickshire beer, Castle bitter.
  • Once they have been paid, they will head straight for the nearest public house and a pint of best bitter.
2 (bitters) [treated as singular] Liquor that is flavored with the sharp pungent taste of plant extracts and is used as an additive in cocktails or as a medicinal substance to promote appetite or digestion.
Example sentences
  • I went with the waiter-recommended champagne cocktail with orange bitters.
  • The plant's active principles are volatile oils, tannins and bitters, and plant constituents acknowledged to improve digestion, reduce GI spasms, and lessen nausea.
  • So it may indeed be true that herbal bitters stimulate the appetite, probably by way of speedier digestion and quicker stomach emptying.


to the bitter end

Used to say that one will continue doing something until it is finished, no matter what: the workers would fight to the bitter end for safer conditions
Perhaps associated with a nautical word bitter denoting the last part of a cable inboard of the bitts, perhaps influenced by the biblical phrase 'her end is bitter as wormwood' (Prov. 5:4)
More example sentences
  • Therfore, I hereby resolve to stick the play out to the bitter end, no matter how dire.
  • Last week's decision to take the matter to the bitter end at the Court of Appeal was taken at a hastily-convened meeting by just four members.
  • Things were looking a little different this time last week as Polygon indicated it would fight to the bitter end.


Old English biter, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch and German bitter, and probably to bite.

  • Like bit, bitter is related to bite. In the phrase to the bitter end ‘until something is finished, no matter what’, is probably not from this word. It derives instead from a nautical term bitter (early 17th century), meaning the last part of a cable, that goes around the ‘bitts’ or fastening points for ropes on board ship. The biblical quotation ‘her end is bitter as wormwood’ may have helped popularize the phrase. Many Englishmen love their pint of bitter. This use seems to have started life as Oxford University slang in the 1850s, when students would talk of ‘doing bitters’.

Words that rhyme with bitter

committer, critter, embitter, emitter, fitter, flitter, fritter, glitter, gritter, hitter, jitter, knitter, litter, permitter, pitta, quitter, remitter, sitter, skitter, slitter, spitter, splitter, submitter, titter, transmitter, twitter, witter

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: bit·ter

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