Definition of acerbic in US English:



  • 1(especially of a comment or style of speaking) sharp and forthright.

    ‘his acerbic wit’
    • ‘Back in January, when it began to snow, I made some acerbic comment that all the 4x4 drivers will be coming into their own.’
    • ‘Thinly veiled insults and acerbic comments are the tools of his or her trade.’
    • ‘Known for his acerbic wit, sharp tongue, and occasional profanity, he stood out among the colorless bureaucrats who ruled Poland.’
    • ‘He is sharp and acerbic and readily entertains.’
    • ‘Ed is known for his acerbic wit and often outlandish and controversial commentary.’
    • ‘He instantly wished he could take back the acerbic comment.’
    • ‘For more than 50 years he has brought to the Bar his consummate advocacy skills combined with an acerbic wit and a sharp legal mind…’
    • ‘His style is acerbic, his humour disquiets, his directness can shock.’
    • ‘The old man never once turned around to look at the speaker, but his reply was undeniably acerbic in nature.’
    • ‘Full of my usual razor sharp wit and acerbic commentary coupled with pithy, erudite and provoking insights into the unfolding world about me.’
    • ‘He has a lazy, matey sort of north London accent, longingly smokes each cigarette, as if it is his last, and has an acerbic wit, usually directed against himself.’
    • ‘I nearly offered my usual acerbic response of ‘And your point is, exactly?’’
    • ‘His prose is peppered with acerbic wit and keen insight.’
    • ‘The author's uncompromising critical insights and acerbic style, both humorous and original, make the reading of this work a feast for both the mind and soul.’
    • ‘Written with erudition and firm, if sometimes quirky, opinion, the book is interlarded with humor and acerbic comment.’
    • ‘He takes his shots at me, but he has an acerbic, curmudgeonly style that gives me a laugh and he happily owns up to his prejudices.’
    • ‘You should have a sassy woman who knows her food but also has acerbic comments to make about corporate America and the food industry.’
    • ‘His question wasn't acerbic, but quite inquisitive.’
    • ‘Jeff and the tenacious Steve - who had continued to make acerbic comments about her the whole evening - sat in the two recliners on either side of the couch.’
    • ‘Marrying thought provoking lyrics with great melodies and his trademark acoustic guitar playing, his music is underlined with an acerbic and sometimes sarcastic wit.’
    sharp, sarcastic, sardonic, satirical, scathing, cutting, razor-edged, incisive, penetrating, piercing, biting, stinging, searing, keen, caustic, trenchant, bitter, acrimonious, astringent, harsh, severe, devastating, abrasive, wounding, hurtful, unkind, cruel, vitriolic, virulent, mordant, venomous, waspish, poisonous, spiteful, vicious, malicious
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  • 2technical, archaic Tasting sour or bitter.

    sour, acid, acidic, acidulated, tart, bitter, unsweetened, sharp, acetic, acetous, vinegary, pungent, acrid
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Mid 19th century: from Latin acerbus ‘sour-tasting’ + -ic.