Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Bitingly sarcastic: mordant satire.
  • adj. Incisive and trenchant: an inquisitor's mordant questioning.
  • adj. Bitingly painful.
  • adj. Serving to fix colors in dyeing.
  • n. A reagent, such as tannic acid, that fixes dyes to cells, tissues, or textiles or other materials.
  • n. A corrosive substance, such as an acid, used in etching.
  • transitive v. To treat with a mordant.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. biting; caustic; sarcastic; keen; severe.
  • n. Any substance used to facilitate the fixing of a dye to a fibre; usually a metallic compound which reacts with the dye using chelation.
  • v. To subject to the action of, or imbue with, a mordant.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Biting; caustic; sarcastic; keen; severe.
  • adj. Serving to fix colors.
  • n. Any corroding substance used in etching.
  • n. Any substance, as alum or copperas, which, having a twofold attraction for organic fibers and coloring matter, serves as a bond of union, and thus gives fixity to, or bites in, the dyes.
  • n. Any sticky matter by which the gold leaf is made to adhere.
  • transitive v. To subject to the action of, or imbue with, a mordant.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Biting; keen; caustic; sarcastic; severe.
  • Having the property of fixing colors.
  • n. A metal chape covering one end of a strap or belt, especially if so arranged as to hook into a clasp on the other end to facilitate securing the belt round the person.
  • n. In the fine arts:
  • To imbue or treat with a mordant.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. harshly ironic or sinister
  • adj. of a substance, especially a strong acid; capable of destroying or eating away by chemical action
  • n. a substance used to treat leather or other materials before dyeing; aids in dyeing process

Etymologies

French, from Old French, present participle of mordre, to bite, from Vulgar Latin *mordere, from Latin mord─ôre; see mer- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

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  • means biting

    June 23, 2008

  • I'd been familiar with this word in the "biting" or "caustic" sense, but not as a substance used to fix dyes. (From Sea Room by Adam Nicolson: "In order to reduce the liquidity of the animal end, the householders 'attended on their cows with large vessels to throw out the wash' - or to keep it as mordant for dyes - 'but still it must be wet and unwholesome" (pp 241-242)

    May 8, 2007