• (Especially of a comment or style of speaking) Sharp and forthright.
  • Tasting sour or bitter.

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Example Sentences

“Her professor’s acerbic criticisms were sharp, but they gave her good critiques for the next assignment.”

“The lemon juice gave a needed acerbic note to the pasta.”

“He thinks he’s just giving the facts, but I find him to be too acerbic.”

Word Origin

Latin, mid-19th century

Why this word?

The root of “acerbic” is the Latin adjective “acerbus,” meaning “harsh or unpleasant.” The meaning has held true in English, with the adjective “acerbic” being applied to anything with a sharp, sarcastic, or cutting delivery. The original meaning of “acerbic” concerned a literal bitter taste, but it has evolved to also describe a more figurative harsh tone or expression. But with all things concerning taste, it’s subjective. From food to personalities, what’s sour and unpleasant to one person might be perfectly sharp for another.

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