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

  • n. See sulfuric acid.
  • n. Any of various sulfates of metals, such as ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, or copper sulfate.
  • n. Bitterly abusive feeling or expression.
  • transitive v. To expose or subject to vitriol.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. sulphuric acid and various metal sulphates
  • n. bitterly abusive language
  • v. to subject someone to bitter verbal abuse

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A sulphate of any one of certain metals, as copper, iron, zinc, cobalt. So called on account of the glassy appearance or luster.
  • n. Sulphuric acid; -- called also oil of vitriol. So called because first made by the distillation of green vitriol. See Sulphuric acid, under sulphuric.
  • transitive v. To dip in dilute sulphuric acid; to pickle.
  • transitive v. To vitriolize.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

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

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

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



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Usage/historical note in comment on myrobolan.

    November 28, 2017

  • 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

  • Like contumely, maybe.

    March 17, 2010

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

    March 11, 2010

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

    March 12, 2008

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

    December 26, 2006