from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various sulfates of metals, such as ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, or copper sulfate.
  • noun Bitterly abusive feeling or expression.
  • transitive verb To expose or subject to vitriol.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To cleanse from grease, dirt, or loose oxid scale on a metal surface by dipping in a bath of dilute sulphuric acid; pickle.
  • noun Sulphuric acid, or one of many of its compounds, which in certain states have a glassy appearance.
  • noun Ferric sulphate: same as colcothar. Also called vitriol of Mars.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb (Metal.) To dip in dilute sulphuric acid; to pickle.
  • transitive verb colloq. To vitriolize.
  • noun colloq., colloq. A sulphate of any one of certain metals, as copper, iron, zinc, cobalt. So called on account of the glassy appearance or luster.
  • noun colloq. Sulphuric acid; -- called also oil of vitriol. So called because first made by the distillation of green vitriol. See Sulphuric acid, under sulphuric.
  • noun See under Blue.
  • noun ferrous sulphate; copperas. See under Green.
  • noun sulphuric or vitriolic acid; -- popularly so called because it has the consistency of oil.
  • noun a native sulphate of cobalt.
  • noun ferric sulphate, a white crystalline substance which dissolves in water, forming a red solution.
  • noun zinc sulphate, a white crystalline substance used in medicine and in dyeing. It is usually obtained by dissolving zinc in sulphuric acid, or by roasting and oxidizing certain zinc ores. Formerly called also vitriol of zinc.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun dated sulphuric acid and various metal sulphates
  • noun by extension bitterly abusive language
  • verb to subject someone to bitter verbal abuse

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

  • noun abusive or venomous language used to express blame or censure or bitter deep-seated ill will
  • noun (H2SO4) a highly corrosive acid made from sulfur dioxide; widely used in the chemical industry
  • verb expose to the effects of vitriol or injure with vitriol
  • verb subject to bitter verbal abuse


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

[Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin vitriolum, from Late Latin vitreolum, neuter of vitreolus, of glass, from Latin vitreus; see vitreous.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin vitriolum ("sulphuric acid"), from Latin vitrum ("glass").


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  • I like to "spew vitriolic hyperbole" while intoxicated. Usually of a misantropic inclination...

    December 26, 2006

  • First she listened but when he began to spout vitriol she told him to leave.

    March 12, 2008

  • This word feels Sherlockian to me, as if the heyday of vitriol was the Victorian era.

    March 11, 2010

  • Like contumely, maybe.

    March 17, 2010

  • This was used on a former female client of Holmes's when she didn't want to do what Baron Gruner wanted her to do.

    June 16, 2012

  • Usage/historical note in comment on myrobolan.

    November 28, 2017