Asperity is the harsh tone or behavior people exhibit when they’re angry, impatient, or just miserable. Did your supervisor snap “Late again!” when you showed up 20 minutes after your shift was supposed to start? She's speaking with asperity.

The harshness that asperity implies can also apply to conditions, like "the asperities of life in a bomb shelter." The word can be used even more literally to refer to surfaces, as in "the asperity of an unfinished edge." But, most often, you will see asperity used in reference to grumpy voices or irritable behavior.

Definitions of asperity
  1. noun
    harshness of manner
    synonyms: sharpness
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    bluntness, dullness
    without sharpness or clearness of edge or point
    type of:
    ill nature
    a disagreeable, irritable, or malevolent disposition
  2. noun
    something hard to endure
    “the asperity of northern winters”
    synonyms: grimness, hardship, rigor, rigorousness, rigour, rigourousness, severeness, severity
    see moresee less
    the quality (as of scenery) being grim and gloomy and forbidding
    type of:
    difficultness, difficulty
    the quality of being difficult
Word Family

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