A lemon in your mouth, a mean-spirited neighbor, a roomful of sarcastic people: these are examples of acerbity, a type of harsh bitterness that can leave you stunned.

The Latin word acerbus means “sour-tasting,” and that is acerbity in a nutshell: sour. Many foods have acerbity, like limes and pickles. Acerbity can also be a personality trait, like a professor who snaps at you if you talk in class. In Charles Dickens’s novel A Christmas Carol, the character Ebenezer Scrooge is a great example of acerbity. He is a bitter, stingy businessman who won’t help anyone but himself. Don’t worry; he learns his lesson in the end.

Definitions of acerbity

n a sharp bitterness

Type of:
bitter, bitterness
the property of having a harsh unpleasant taste

n a sharp sour taste

Type of:
acidity, sour, sourness
the property of being acidic

n a rough and bitter manner

acrimony, bitterness, jaundice, tartness, thorniness
Type of:
an ill-tempered and offensive disposition

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