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

  • adj. Variant of acerbic.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Sour, bitter, and harsh to the taste, as unripe fruit.
  • adj. Sharp and harsh in expressing oneself.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Sour, bitter, and harsh to the taste, as unripe fruit; sharp and harsh.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Sour, bitter, and harsh to the taste; sour, with astringency or roughness; hence, figuratively, sharp, harsh, etc.

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

  • adj. harsh or corrosive in tone
  • adj. sour or bitter in taste


Latin acerbus, from acer sharp: compare French acerbe. See acrid (Wiktionary)


  • The morning my review ran, I got a call from an agent friend who is cultivated, extraordinarily smart and superbly acerb.

    When Words Fail

  • This way came Dr. John, in visage, in shape, in hue, as unlike the dark, acerb, and caustic little professor, as the fruit of the Hesperides might be unlike the sloe in the wild thicket; as the high-couraged but tractable


  • John Richardson's piece on Judy Chicago is delightful, insightful, and nicely acerb.


  • She denied that stenographers could ever form a union, but she could not answer his acerb, "Why not?"

    The Job An American Novel

  • It may be suggested, in tones of some remonstrance, that things like "though pierced by the cruel acerb," or "thy fleetingness is bigger in the ghost," or "her gabbling grey she eyes askant," or "sheer film of the surface awag" are not taking Nature naturally.

    The Victorian Age in Literature

  • Yet his carriage was assuredly not that of middle age, and indeed, the total of his personality, neither young nor old, neither callow nor acerb, neither lightly unreserved nor too gravely severe, offered certain problems not capable of instant solution.

    The Law of the Land

  • Then acerb old John Cotton and some other Boston ascetics

    Sabbath in Puritan New England

  • He had been giving a dinner followed by a concert, and the deafening strains of the music clashed with my acerb spirit, irritating me excessively.

    Complete Project Gutenberg Works of George Meredith

  • Separated from a certain fascination that there was for her in Edward's acerb wit, she saw that he was doing a dastardly thing in cold blood.

    Complete Project Gutenberg Works of George Meredith

  • Thereupon followed a soft discussion that was as near being acerb as nails are near velvet paws.

    Complete Project Gutenberg Works of George Meredith


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