Definition of acerbic in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /əˈsəːbɪk/


1(Especially of a comment or style of speaking) sharp and forthright: his acerbic wit
More example sentences
  • Full of my usual razor sharp wit and acerbic commentary coupled with pithy, erudite and provoking insights into the unfolding world about me.
  • The author's uncompromising critical insights and acerbic style, both humorous and original, make the reading of this work a feast for both the mind and soul.
  • His style is acerbic, his humour disquiets, his directness can shock.
sharp, sarcastic, sardonic, satirical, scathing, cutting, razor-edged, incisive, penetrating, piercing, biting, stinging, searing, keen, caustic, trenchant, bitter, acrimonious, astringent, harsh, severe, devastating, abrasive, wounding, hurtful, unkind, cruel, vitriolic, virulent, mordant, venomous, waspish, poisonous, spiteful, vicious, malicious;
North American  acerb
informal bitchy, catty
British informal sarky
North American informal snarky
rare mordacious, acidulous
2 archaic or technical Tasting sour or bitter.
sour, acid, acidic, acidulated, tart, bitter, unsweetened, sharp, acetic, acetous, vinegary, pungent, acrid;
unpleasant, distasteful;
North American  acerb
rare acidulous



Example sentences
  • ‘The names engraved in gold inside it’, he notes acerbically, ‘are supposed to inspire veneration and awe, not to motivate the young to examine the lives of the named individuals with curiosity and patience’.
  • ‘I can see the headlines now,’ he said acerbically.
  • This is a remarkably candid self-assessment from a legendarily prickly man of whom his own ex-wife once acerbically observed: ‘His self-regard was easily punctured and his reaction was protracted and troublesome.’


Pronunciation: /əˈsəːbəti/
Example sentences
  • The source said: ‘There was no acrimony, no acerbity.’
  • These writings revealed a first-rate sensibility, a critic ready to stick his neck out and make the necessary judgments, sometimes with acerbity, often with a humorous irony.
  • It has lacked pathos, wit and acerbity.


Mid 19th century: from Latin acerbus 'sour-tasting' + -ic.

  • This is from Latin acerbus ‘sour-tasting’.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: acerb¦ic

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Related Words