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

  • adj. Having or being a taste that is sharp, acrid, and unpleasant.
  • adj. Causing a sharply unpleasant, painful, or stinging sensation; harsh: enveloped in bitter cold; a bitter wind.
  • adj. Difficult or distasteful to accept, admit, or bear: the bitter truth; bitter sorrow.
  • adj. Proceeding from or exhibiting strong animosity: a bitter struggle; bitter foes.
  • adj. Resulting from or expressive of severe grief, anguish, or disappointment: cried bitter tears.
  • adj. Marked by resentment or cynicism: "He was already a bitter elderly man with a gray face” ( John Dos Passos).
  • adv. In an intense or harsh way; bitterly: a bitter cold night.
  • transitive v. To make bitter.
  • n. That which is bitter: "all words . . . /Failing to give the bitter of the sweet” ( Tennyson).
  • n. A bitter, usually alcoholic liquid made with herbs or roots and used in cocktails or as a tonic.
  • n. Chiefly British A sharp-tasting beer made with hops.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Having an acrid taste (usually from a basic substance)
  • adj. Harsh, piercing or stinging
  • adj. Hateful or hostile
  • adj. Cynical and resentful
  • n. A liquid or powder, made from bitter herbs, used in mixed drinks or as a tonic.
  • n. A type of beer heavily flavored with hops.
  • n. A turn of a cable about the bitts.
  • v. To make bitter.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having a peculiar, acrid, biting taste, like that of wormwood or an infusion of hops.
  • adj. Causing pain or smart; piercing; painful; sharp; severe.
  • adj. Causing, or fitted to cause, pain or distress to the mind; calamitous; poignant.
  • adj. Characterized by sharpness, severity, or cruelty; harsh; stern; virulent.
  • adj. Mournful; sad; distressing; painful; pitiable.
  • n. AA turn of the cable which is round the bitts.
  • n. Any substance that is bitter. See bitters.
  • transitive v. To make bitter.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Having a harsh taste, like that of wormwood or quinine.
  • Hence Unpalatable; hard to swallow, literally or figuratively: as, a bitter pill; a bitter lesson.
  • Hard to be borne; grievous; distressful; calamitous: as, a bitter moment; bitter fate.
  • Causing pain or smart to the sense of feeling; piercing: painful; biting: as, bitter cold; “the bitter blast,”
  • Harsh, as words; reproachful; sarcastic; cutting; sharp: as,“bitter taunts,”
  • Cherishing or exhibiting animosity, hate, anger, or severity; cruel; severe; harsh; stern: as, “bitterest enmity,” Shak., Cor., iv. 4; “bitter enemies,”
  • Evincing or betokening intense pain or suffering: as, a bitter cry.
  • n. That which is bitter; bitterness.
  • n. Specifically A bitter medicine, as a bitter bark or root, or an infusion made from it. See bitters.
  • To make bitter; give a bitter taste to; embitter.
  • n. Nautical, a turn of a cable round the bitts.
  • n. An old form of bittern.

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

  • n. the property of having a harsh unpleasant taste
  • adv. extremely and sharply
  • n. English term for a dry sharp-tasting ale with strong flavor of hops (usually on draft)
  • adj. causing a sharply painful or stinging sensation; used especially of cold
  • adj. marked by strong resentment or cynicism
  • v. make bitter
  • adj. proceeding from or exhibiting great hostility or animosity
  • adj. causing a sharp and acrid taste experience
  • n. the taste experience when quinine or coffee is taken into the mouth
  • adj. expressive of severe grief or regret
  • adj. harsh or corrosive in tone
  • adj. very difficult to accept or bear


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

Middle English, from Old English; see bheid- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English bitter


  • Absinthites or Wormwood wine, a nauseously bitter medicament then much in use; and this being evidently {242} the _bitter potion of Eysell_ in the poet's sonnet, was certainly the nauseous draught proposed to be taken by Hamlet among the other extravagant feats as tokens of love.

    Notes and Queries, Number 46, September 14, 1850

  • But the true Lord of our lives loves us too well to let us experience all the bitter issues of our foolish rebellion against His authority, and yet He loves us too well not to let us taste something of them that we may 'know and see that it is an evil thing _and a bitter_, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God.'

    Expositions of Holy Scripture Second Kings Chapters VIII to End and Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. Esther, Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes

  • I finish, the word bitter on my tongue before I swallow it.


  • I think people would assume that that was the reason for my ambivalence here, the reason that the bitter is at least in equal measure with the sweet as I watch my dad walk into this new life.

    Archive 2009-05-01

  • Coming up at 7: 00 Eastern, more on the presidential campaign, of course -- the very latest on Senator Obama's refusal to apologize for what many say are his insulting and condescending remarks about small town America -- what he calls bitter voters.

    CNN Transcript Apr 14, 2008

  • Zarqawi, seven days before the election, declared what he called a bitter war against this evil principle of democracy.

    Keynote Address at the TD Waterhouse Investment Advisor Conference

  • "I don't know a better word than the word 'bitter' to describe how we feel today," Gillard told reporters in Perth.

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion

  • Frank-Walter Steinmeiers SPD had its worst postwar result in what he called a bitter day after sharing power with Merkel for four years and governing for the previous seven. - Photown News

  • M. Fermin has given an accurate description of the two spe - cies of manioc, with an account of its culture, to which he has added some experiments, in order to ascertain the poisonous qualities of the juice extracted from that species which he calls the bitter cassava.

    The History of America

  • Debates during Ehrlich's four-year term ended in bitter stalemates, with slots opponents arguing that casinos would breed gambling addiction, crime and other social ills, and that Maryland should focus on fostering industries with more high-skilled jobs.

    Marylanders bullish on gambling as first slots casino opens


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