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

  • n. Roughness or harshness, as of surface, sound, or climate: the asperity of northern winters.
  • n. Severity; rigor.
  • n. A slight projection from a surface; a point or bump.
  • n. Harshness of manner; ill temper or irritability.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Roughness as of stone or weather.
  • n. Harshness, as of temper.
  • n. Something that is harsh and difficult to endure.
  • n. A part of a geological fault line that does not move.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Roughness of surface; unevenness; -- opposed to smoothness.
  • n. Roughness or harshness of sound; that quality which grates upon the ear; raucity.
  • n. Roughness to the taste; sourness; tartness.
  • n. Moral roughness; roughness of manner; severity; crabbedness; harshness; -- opposed to mildness.
  • n. Sharpness; disagreeableness; difficulty.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Roughness of surface; unevenness: opposed to smoothness.
  • n. Roughness of sound; harshness of pronunciation.
  • n. Harshness of taste; sourness.
  • n. Roughness or ruggedness of temper; crabbedness; bitterness; severity: as, to chide one with asperity; “asperity of character,” Landor.
  • n. Disagreeableness; unpleasantness; difficulty: as, “the acclivities and asperities of duty,” Barrow, Sermons, III. xlii.
  • n. Synonyms Acrimony, Harshness, etc. See acrimony.

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

  • n. harshness of manner
  • n. something hard to endure


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

Middle English asperite, from Old French asprete, from Latin asperitās, from asper, rough.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French asprete, from Latin asperitatem, from asper ("rough").


  • I recall the asperity with which this easy out (Kushner's "God is not all-powerful") was dismissed by Yehuda Bauer, the former head of the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, when I asked him about it in Jerusalem.

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  • With all its merits, there are those who have thought that there was one thing in the declaration to be regretted; and that is, the asperity and anger with which it speaks of the person of the king; the industrious ability with which it accumulates and charges upon him all the injuries which the colonies had suffered from the mother country.

    Thomas Jefferson, a Character Sketch

  • Professor Brack deals with the question of Hawkins's "asperity" toward Johnson in his introduction.

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  • She'd been through the spellin'-book wunst, and had got as fur as 'asperity' on it a second time.

    The Hoosier Schoolmaster

  • The New York Times noted his asperity when dealing with Apple's competitor, Microsoft, "The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste," he said.

    Rev. James Martin, S.J.: St. Steve Jobs? Probably Not, But….

  • I was mulling this when God spoke to me again, this time in a voice every bit as clear but now tinged with a hint of asperity: "Just go do what I'm sending you to do."

    Eliot Daley: My Memo To Atheists: Why I Choose God

  • That's nice -- as one of my Catholic friends put it with some asperity, she was glad Catholicism "was working out for him."

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  • Its interest, when changes in the world are inevitable and necessary, is to assist so that the changes "if possible, may be accomplished without war; or, if war occurs, that its duration and asperity be lessened."

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  • Bernard Lewis, the renowned scholar of Islam and the Middle East, has noted with asperity that whereas, in a majority-Christian country like the United States, an English-language biographer of Jesus enjoys total latitude to say what he will and as he will, his counterpart working on a biography of Muhammad must look fearfully over his shoulder every step of the way.

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  • "Oh, I know what you're drivin 'at," Bert said with asperity.



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  • "Is it so important that you should be sure?" she finally questioned.

    "Not to you, naturally," he returned with involuntary asperity.

    - Edith Wharton, The Reef

    June 20, 2008