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.