If you say something acerbic, or harshly bitter, to someone, it can leave a bitter taste in your own mouth that lingers, and the acerbic, or acidic, words can eat away at the person on the receiving end too.

It is fitting that the first part of acerbic sounds like the first part of "acid," because the Latin source of acerbic is acerbus, "sour-tasting." Acerbic speech is like acid, because it is sour and corrodes, or weakens, relationships. There are ways to use sharp words for humor, and some comedians are known for their "acerbic wit," but just as you would take safety precautions in using acid in a science lab, you should be cautious about using acerbic language in conversation.

Definitions of acerbic
  1. adjective
    sour or bitter in taste
    synonyms: acerb, astringent
    having a sharp biting taste
  2. adjective
    harsh or corrosive in tone
    “an acerbic tone piercing otherwise flowery prose”
    synonyms: acerb, acid, acrid, astringent, bitter, blistering, caustic, sulfurous, sulphurous, virulent, vitriolic
    disagreeable to the senses, to the mind, or feelings
Word Family

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