Definition of asperity in English:



  • 1[mass noun] Harshness of tone or manner.

    ‘he pointed this out with some asperity’
    • ‘He opposed devolution consistently, and with some asperity, precisely because of its potential to elide into independence.’
    • ‘His music is liberally dissonant within a strongly tonal framework, the asperity resulting from the play of contrapuntal lines rather than from wilful experiment.’
    • ‘‘Yes, there were lots of things in there,’ she says, with a hint of asperity.’
    • ‘‘I have to say, getting on the road and pounding along running or getting in the gym and spending hours pumping iron is not his greatest interest in life,’ Head said, with asperity.’
    • ‘Samples, tapes, synths, drum programmes and all-sorts have been embedded into the sound to create a dynamic asperity.’
    • ‘‘In case you hadn't noticed, Milord, ‘he said with just a hint of asperity, ‘everyone's avoiding you.’’
    • ‘Writing in French purified his style, and his translations into English of his work retain a penitential rigour and asperity.’
    • ‘To which she is likely to respond with a touch of asperity: ‘That is the wrong question.’’
    • ‘As a friend of mine observed with some asperity, ‘Who cares if they're fresh and locally grown if they're covered in sugary goo?’’
    • ‘‘If speaking of Demons was a crime,’ Dorain retorted with asperity, ‘we'd all burn!’’
    • ‘When I asked if he had never wanted to go back to South Africa, he responded with some asperity.’
    • ‘‘Well, make sure it never crosses your navel,’ she retorted with asperity.’
    • ‘‘Because I said so’, Emmett replied with some asperity.’
    • ‘I was trying to keep my asperity to a minimum, for his sake.’
    • ‘At this point in the play, folk culture of Lenten abnegation and christening joy collides with mannered personal interaction and judgmental asperity.’
    • ‘‘They are one and the same, young lady,’ the officer told her with some asperity. ‘I take it you didn't exactly plan this trip.’’
    • ‘I can move her, if you like,’ the elderly surgeon said, a hint of asperity in his voice, ‘but this is the infirmary, after all-'’
    • ‘In another post Keith spoke with some asperity about ‘dolts’ who don't think much about the world around them and know little of politics.’
    • ‘That was something that would attract asperity.’
    • ‘‘Oh, you know what I mean,’ Lady Benthorne said with some asperity.’
    harshness, sharpness, roughness, abrasiveness, severity, acerbity, astringency, bitterness, acidity, tartness, edge, acrimony, virulence, sarcasm
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Harsh qualities or conditions.
      ‘the asperities of a harsh and divided society’
      • ‘It conveys pathos, asperity or affectionate irony, rather as if one were in the presence of a relative from whom little is hid and to whom little need to be explained.’
      • ‘And he looked forward to the day when ‘the asperities and peculiarities of their character ‘would be worn away and they would become ‘liberal Unitarian Christians.’’
      • ‘By frequent collision asperities were worn off, and a foundation was laid for the establishment of a nation, out of discordant materials.’
      • ‘The asperities on the ceramic surface are initially large and abrasive.’
      • ‘She is forced to deal with the asperity of her new Frontier life, and put up with a society that is formed mostly by men, who are constantly over powering her, and unyielding in their torment, her own family being no exception.’
      • ‘This can be explained by the existence of a microfracture dilatancy zone at the level of this sample, causing relatively large fracture asperities reflected by pore throats at 85, 25 and 7 m.’
      • ‘In this case, the resistance to sliding is produced by harder asperities on the surfaces and by adhesion between points of solid-solid contact.’
      • ‘The fracture zones appear to extend beneath the Caribbean plate and act as asperities marked by the higher-than-average of incidence of earthquakes.’
      • ‘Shear stress can be occasionally intensified if a given rock volume is exposed to local geometric effects such as bending around an asperity on a fault plane.’
      • ‘This form of displacement is often called ‘stick-slip’; that is, strain builds up in the rocks next to the fault but there is no slip for some time because the rocks on either side of the fault are stuck together by features such as asperities.’
      • ‘In particular, seamounts on the subducting plate may serve as earthquake nucleation sites or asperities.’


Middle English (in the sense ‘hardship, rigour’): from Old French asperite, or Latin asperitas, from asper rough.