Definition of bittersweet in English:



  • 1(of food or drink) sweet with a bitter aftertaste.

    ‘she sipped the bittersweet drink’
    ‘the ale has a fine bittersweet nutty taste’
    • ‘The flavors are bright and full of bittersweet blackberry and raspberry flavors.’
    • ‘The color is a radiant, bright light-scarlet and the aromas are filled with bittersweet cherries and strawberries.’
    • ‘Putting all horrid thoughts aside, she closed her mouth over the wound and swallowed the red liquid, not surprised at the bittersweet, metallic flavour to it.’
    • ‘He was nursing a cup of strong black coffee, revelling in the bittersweet, acrid tang and the caffeine rush it provided to his dozy brain.’
    • ‘Capable of any season, any city, and even more important, any palate, who better to present a feature on the food paradox of bitter-sweet flavors than Alain Ducasse.’
    • ‘These dominoes, made by Christopher Norman chocolates, combine an excellent bittersweet shell dotted with white chocolate with an intense, barely fluid dark caramel filling.’
    • ‘The food is a cut above the usual uncomplicated Northumbrian fare as well, throwing in the occasional maverick Norse touch, such as dill-seasoned salmon and a bitter-sweet berry sauce with your duck.’
    • ‘Michael rolled his tongue backwards in his mouth, savoring the bittersweet beer he clutched in his pale soft hands.’
    • ‘Part of its appeal comes from its subtle, faintly bitter-sweet taste, but part also from its attractive deep green colour.’
    • ‘She carves me a slice, and serves it up with a spoon of the bittersweet cloudberry compôte.’
    • ‘Whisk finely chopped chocolate into hot milk for a bittersweet but more sophisticated and rich hot cocoa.’
    • ‘We purchased some things there (including some of those bitter-sweet cola worms that sell all over the place in NZ) and headed back towards Brooklyn on the subway.’
    • ‘The whirling flavours release bitter-sweet lime, aromatic bitters and fiery ginger with every twist.’
    • ‘The bittersweet Limoncello is positively breathtaking with the ripe orange-fleshed melon and fat, sweet blackberries.’
    • ‘The best drink discovery so far has been the bittersweet hot chocolate in Murphy's Ice cream shop in Dingle.’
    • ‘And the texture and flavor of each variety is as dramatically different as its look; from starchy to waxy, from nutty to bitter-sweet.’
    • ‘She sipped a bittersweet brew of Oriental herbs.’
    • ‘The berries add flavour to many foods and drinks besides gin - their bitter-sweet taste goes particularly well with stronger meats and game.’
    • ‘I picked the last rhubarb of the year today, and then I picked the first bitter-sweet cooking cherries and will make something interesting and desserty with both of them this evening.’
    • ‘This slightly bitter-sweet drink is good for moisturizing your throat to relieve tickles and coughing, it also alleviates constipation.’
  • 2Arousing pleasure tinged with sadness or pain.

    ‘bittersweet memories of his time in London’
    • ‘Anyway, it was a bitter-sweet day… much as I have cursed and loathed the stress of my job at times, I will miss the camaraderie of the office, as well as the relative structure of my working life.’
    • ‘But if wishes were reality we would miss many of the flavors of life, delighting only in the sweet, and never tasting the bitter-sweet.’
    • ‘The film is a documentary on love with the realism that captures its fine subtleties, the nuances of body language and the freshness of life of two people in love and their bitter-sweet pangs of growing up and trying to live together.’
    • ‘‘Comfort’ is too weak a word for the bitter-sweet sense of loss evoked by reading or re-reading children's books.’
    • ‘Candy Bar Kid is described as a bitter-sweet urban story of innocence and darkness.’
    • ‘But again, his memories of the abbey are bitter-sweet.’
    • ‘We are a small group of old friends tied together by such bitter-sweet remembrance of things past and by the common hope that the forthcoming year will bring us health and some modest success in our life and work.’
    • ‘The actress is taking on the challenging lead role in The Gingerbread Lady, a bitter-sweet comedy that follows the progress of a nightclub singer recovering from alcoholism.’
    • ‘Nonetheless, it still produced some beautifully bitter-sweet tunes like this underrated piano-driven gem.’
    • ‘The final day of camp was a bitter-sweet one as the youngsters bid teary-eyed farewells to their colleagues, at the same time looking forward to their first day of secondary school.’
    • ‘Despite the bitter-sweet memories, the win remains the greatest moment in the central European country's sporting history and is still, 50 years on, a source of intense pride for Hungarians of all ages.’
    • ‘But the bitter-sweet news is that local farmers who made a special protest visit to Brussels earlier this year got at least part of what they wanted.’
    • ‘His voice has the ability to alter in sound and texture, sometimes emitting a bitter-sweet tenor reminiscent of the late Freddy Mercury; other times we can hear the sandpaper-toned caterwauling of Tom Waites.’
    • ‘I found it a bitter-sweet experience, but the American woman in the cottage next to mine said afterwards, in awe-struck tones, ‘It was so beautiful, I wept.’’
    • ‘I want everything I write of it to be true, hard-edged where it needs to be, bitter, sweet, bitter-sweet.’
    • ‘But there was also a bitter-sweet atmosphere in Rome since the 83-year-old pope, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, is so clearly ailing.’
    • ‘Surprising that something so bitter-sweet would come out of a giant-ape movie.’
    • ‘The businessman said: ‘This is a bitter-sweet victory for us as I gain no pleasure from what I see as a complete waste of council-tax payers' money.’’
    • ‘They even visit Canterbury on their way, but the tales they tell (mostly to us, not each other) are the bitter-sweet flashbacks of memory, not episodes of instructive fiction.’
    • ‘We start out walking on the street, whispering sweet nothings in each other's ears, playing a bitter-sweet game of cat and mouse.’


  • 1

    another term for "woody nightshade" (see nightshade)
    • ‘The purple berries of the pokeweed and the red berries of the European bittersweet, or nightshade, are common offenders.’
    • ‘The Delaware, Iroquois, Micmac, and Nootka Indians used bittersweet as a poultice to treat arthritis, skin ailments, digestive complaints, and tumors.’
    • ‘The name bittersweet seems to come more from the taste of the bark/twigs (bitter…then a bit acrid…then sweetish).’
  • 2An American climbing plant that bears clusters of bright orange pods.

    Genus Celastrus, family Celastraceae: several species

    • ‘American bittersweet is valued for its glossy green summer foliage followed by orange and red fruits and seeds, and several landscape cultivars are commercially marketed.’
    • ‘Climbing bittersweet is a twisting, woody vine that climbs rope-like on trees.’
    • ‘His poems on crocus, bittersweet, sycamore, sassafras and the like are celebrations of the natural world.’
  • 3A widely distributed bivalve mollusc which has a pale rounded shell that is typically marked with wavy lines.

    Genus Glycymeris, family Glycymeridae

    • ‘Some of the shells I collected were bittersweets which are also gastropods, but they are considered bivalves like the sunrise tellins, so they have two shells.’
    • ‘Many of the inhabitants of intertidal sand and mud flats also occur subtidally, where they are joined by tusk shells, awning clams, bittersweets, pen shells, and gastropods such as tons, helmets, harps, olives, volutes, cones and terebras.’
    • ‘The other two locally occurring Bittersweets are the Decussate Bittersweet (Glycymeris decussata) and the Atlantic Bittersweet (Glycymeris undata).’