Definition of caustic in English:


Syllabification: caus·tic
Pronunciation: /ˈkôstik


  • 1Able to burn or corrode organic tissue by chemical action: a caustic cleaner
    More example sentences
    • The list includes sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide, caustic chemicals that will rip the skin off your fingers and the lining from the throat.
    • Sodium hydroxide is a caustic type of chemical that actually softens hair fibers.
    • Some of the chemicals - including caustic hydrogen fluoride and deadly arsine gas - are toxic, and the fossil fuel consumed contributes to global warming, says Williams.
    corrosive, corroding, abrasive, mordant, acid
  • 3 Physics Formed by the intersection of reflected or refracted parallel rays from a curved surface.
    More example sentences
    • In On burning mirrors Diocles also studies the problem of finding a mirror such that the envelope of reflected rays is a given caustic curve or of finding a mirror such that the focus traces a given curve as the Sun moves across the sky.
    • Sturm's theoretical work in mathematical physics involved the study of caustic curves, and poles and polars of conic sections.
    • For example they worked together on caustic curves during 1692-93 although they did not publish the work jointly.


Back to top  
  • 1A caustic substance.
    More example sentences
    • Spent grain, yeast, ethanol, and acids and caustics used for cleaning are all sent out to be used for feed for cattle or reprocessed and reused industrially.
    • Production is potentially dangerous, as you need to heat volatile methanol with caustics.
    • The scenes below show caustics, which are very difficult to render.
  • 2 Physics A caustic surface or curve.
    More example sentences
    • Nevertheless, this elucidation of the generic discontinuous change has shed light upon many optical phenomena where caustics and diffraction occur.
    • The caustic of a circle with radiant point on the circumference is a cardioid, while if the rays are parallel then the caustic is a nephroid.
    • The caustic of the equiangular spiral, where the pole is taken as the radiant, is an equal equiangular spiral.



Pronunciation: /-ik(ə)lē/
More example sentences
  • Unfortunately, however, they have now become a version of the mid-1960s caucus which a reformist Whitlam so caustically described at the time: small and witless men.
  • It is strangely unclassifiable television - a caustically comic, surreptitiously sudsy thriller that has alienated a whole tranche of strait-laced Americans and so delighted many more.
  • Maybe it is in his corner, but as one Indonesian newspaper commented caustically, ‘No doubt the police feel safe, because they have guns.’


Pronunciation: /kôˈstisətē/
More example sentences
  • ‘A Dirty Shame’ finds Waters basking in the wildness of such fun, but the film is also a retreat from his more sophisticated causticity.
  • ‘The saliva of termites has great causticity, although it is not strong enough to destroy concrete buildings,’ said Cheng Ruihua, a termite exterminator in Yangpu District for over 30 years.
  • One is tempted, with undue causticity perhaps, to ask - like Emperor Joseph II at the premiere of Mozart's ‘Abduction from the Seraglio ‘- whether her prose does not, in fact, have ‘too many notes.’


late Middle English: via Latin from Greek kaustikos, from kaustos 'combustible', from kaiein 'to burn'.

More definitions of caustic

Definition of caustic in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day astrogation
Pronunciation: ˌastrəˈgāSHən
(in science fiction) navigation in outer space