SKIP TO CONTENT

mordant

If you like Edgar Allan Poe and "The Addams Family," you have a taste for mordant entertainment — that is, anything particularly grim or dark in nature.

The original meaning of mordant (which comes from the Latin word modere, meaning "to bite or sting,") was that of a physical substance that literally bit into something, such as the one used to set dye into fabrics, or etch lines into a copper plate. Now, mordant generally refers to a dark or biting artistic style, sense of humor, or psychological outlook.

Definitions of mordant
  1. adjective
    harshly ironic or sinister
    “fun ranging from slapstick clowning ... to savage mordant wit”
    synonyms: black, grim
    sarcastic
    expressing or expressive of ridicule that wounds
  2. adjective
    of a substance, especially a strong acid; capable of destroying or eating away by chemical action
    synonyms: caustic, corrosive, erosive, vitriolic
    destructive
    causing destruction or much damage
  3. noun
    a substance used to treat leather or other materials before dyeing; aids in dyeing process
    see moresee less
    types:
    chrome alum
    a violet-colored salt used in hide tanning and as a mordant in dyeing
    antimony potassium tartrate, tartar emetic
    a poisonous colorless salt used as a mordant and in medicine
    sodium bichromate, sodium dichromate
    a red-orange salt used as a mordant
    type of:
    color, coloring material, colour, colouring material
    any material used for its color
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week