Definition of astringent in US English:



  • 1Causing the contraction of body tissues, typically of the skin.

    ‘an astringent skin lotion’
    • ‘To detoxify and tone the liver after a meat-laden diet, Janet prescribed astringent greens like dandelion.’
    • ‘Many beneficial properties have been assigned to the mango, such as its antiscorbutic, diuretic, laxative and astringent effects.’
    • ‘Putting cool compresses soaked in an astringent liquid on the blisters and sores might also make them hurt or itch less.’
    • ‘A woody, citrus-like, mildly astringent blend which is excellent for combination skin - it will help to balance out patches of dry and oily skin.’
    • ‘If your skin cracks open, doctors sometimes prescribe wet dressings with mildly astringent properties to contract the skin, reduce secretions and prevent infection.’
    • ‘To clear up blemishes, dab an astringent facial toner on acne spots.’
    • ‘It was included, because of its astringent qualities, in skin tonics, and became a principal ingredient in shampoos and hair rinses.’
    • ‘We know that strong tea is very astringent - it puckers the mouth - so think what it is doing to the kidneys.’
    • ‘Most packs and masks are astringent, so they stimulate blood circulation in the skin.’
    • ‘It has a bracing, fresh smell, is an all-natural essential oil, and it has astringent / antiseptic properties which will kill off bacteria.’
    • ‘The cooked or steamed fruit loses its laxative activity and becomes more astringent and constipating.’
    • ‘The astringent action of the alcohol will dry out your skin.’
    • ‘Cucumbers are more than 90% water and have astringent properties, which help constrict blood vessels.’
    • ‘Tannins are astringent substances found in the seeds, skin and stems of grapes.’
    • ‘Tomatoes, which are astringent and acidic, assist in the digestion of dairy products and help counterbalance the greasy quality of the fatty, over-salted cheese.’
    • ‘If your skin is oily, use a more astringent witch hazel-based toner.’
    • ‘Studies have shown that calendula ointments can accelerate the healing of wounds and have antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, astringent and immune-stimulating properties.’
    • ‘Witch hazel contains astringent tannins that dry up the fluid-filled skin and relieve pain by increasing circulation.’
    • ‘Nowadays herbalists use it for its astringent properties.’
    • ‘You will find that this lotion is slightly astringent, leaving your skin feeling cool and delightfully fragrant.’
    constricting, contracting, constrictive, constringent, styptic
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  • 2Sharp or severe in manner or style.

    ‘her astringent words had their effect’
    • ‘This is a fine work with all the characteristics of the composer's style: astringent harmonies, strong motor rhythms and lyrical melodies.’
    • ‘The final chapter is nicely astringent and melancholic.’
    • ‘His less astringent manner could help him forge the strategic relationships his father couldn't.’
    • ‘For its time, the sound is fairly astringent - like Mahler in a sullen mood.’
    • ‘They wanted us to talk about our problems,’ His voice was astringent with sarcasm and cynicism.’
    • ‘These are quirky books, written by a quirky writer for quirky readers; they offer an astringent tonic in a time when narration, across genres and media, falls as often as not into saccharine complacency.’
    • ‘It's not saying anything against them to assert that there is also a tough, astringent view of life that should be given its due.’
    • ‘But he is also capable of terse, astringent judgments and an incisive turn of phrase.’
    • ‘That said, I tend to agree with Cartledge's more astringent view of Alexander.’
    • ‘His recitative is more expressive, varying from something quite melodious to a fast-moving narration, in which individual words and phrases are expressed by astringent harmonies.’
    • ‘Weill's brief overture is wonderfully astringent and dissonant, the precise opposite of the florid, creamy style of the composer often regarded as his chief competitor, George Gershwin.’
    • ‘The harmonies become slightly more astringent, and one hears a new fascination with cross-rhythms and syncopation.’
    • ‘This daunting, darkly astringent music was played in a superlative manner by cellist Marilyn De Olivera (a graduate of Indiana and Rice Universities).’
    • ‘Comparative work has been promoted by the Canadian historian Donald Akenson, providing an astringent critique of some of the clichés of Irish immigrant historiography.’
    • ‘I see it as more sardonic and astringent, in the manner of Prokofiev.’
    • ‘This ambitious work is remarkably astringent and contemporary.’
    • ‘This tale cloys today's palate: we miss the astringent irony which Thomas Hardy would have brought to circumstances like these.’
    severe, sharp, stern, harsh, rough, acerbic, austere, caustic, mordant, trenchant
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    1. 2.1 (of taste or smell) sharp or bitter.
      ‘an astringent smell of rotting apples’
      • ‘It is even possible that the urge to consume bitter and astringent compounds such as tea, coffee and chilli is an ancient drive to eat foods that help combat our many parasites.’
      • ‘Prior to processing, cocoa has a rather astringent taste.’
      • ‘Where are the days of long, complex formulas, and what has happened to difficult perfumes that smell sharp and astringent, or dry and peppery?’
      • ‘Green tomatoes tend to be astringent and in the South are most often fried in cornmeal and served with a tangy dip.’
      • ‘The anticarcinogenic compounds that taste astringent to us are actually toxins too - poisonous to the insects that chew on the plants.’
      • ‘At first we protested vigorously, but when we had grown accustomed to the astringent flavour of the fruit, we were glad to take our share.’
      • ‘Young red wines may also contain excessive quantities of tannins, which taste bitter and astringent unless allowed to polymerize during extended bottle ageing.’
      • ‘If you find sage's pungent and astringent taste too strong, mix it with some cooling mint, lemon balm, or lemon juice.’
      • ‘The tannins in a wine come from skins, seeds, and stems, and when those parts are still green at picking time, the wine can be rough and astringent.’
      • ‘Buttermilk is an assortment of three tastes - sweet, sour and astringent.’
      • ‘Back inside, I find mother cooking, juicing lemons and chopping coriander, which has filled the kitchen with its slightly astringent smell.’
      • ‘The presence of phenols gives the water a slightly astringent taste and a light orange-yellowish colour.’
      • ‘The bright green fruits are said to have a sour, sweet, bitter, and astringent taste, with a cooling energy.’
      • ‘The rest of the plant has a distinctive, astringent smell that can be detected by rubbing the leaves or flowers.’
      • ‘The strong astringent smell of ammonia invigorated Ted for the first time all morning.’
      • ‘A bitter, astringent scent like hospital antiseptic is in the air.’
      • ‘Focus on spicy, bitter and astringent tastes, and reduce sweet, salty and sour-tasting foods.’
      • ‘And why do you think every salad you order is the same mixed shred of multicoloured crunchy stuff, which tastes only of the astringent, mustard-thick dressing squirted over it?’
      • ‘The deep green, hairy leaves make a slightly astringent tea that's similar to a mild, fragrant China tea.’
      • ‘Taste is actually a very direct way of experiencing the pharmacology of a plant - certain strong alkaloids taste bitter, volatile oils have an aromatic taste, certain plant acids have a sour of astringent taste.’
      • ‘It had a sour, faintly astringent smell of decay.’


  • A substance that causes the contraction of body tissues, typically used to protect the skin and to reduce bleeding from minor abrasions.

    • ‘A range of ointments is available that contain local anaesthetics, mild astringents, or steroids.’
    • ‘Hawthorn berry and flower, for example, are considered excellent cardiac tonics, diuretics and astringents.’
    • ‘Rosewood and grapefruit are both mild astringents and will improve the colour and texture of the skin.’
    • ‘Fruits like Granny Smith apples and grapefruit act as astringents and help cut down on excessive cravings.’
    • ‘The stem bark is also used as an astringent and febrifuge for relapsing fevers.’
    • ‘They have been used since ancient times as anaesthetics, analgesics, anti-allergens, anti-carcinogens, antiseptics, antibiotics, antispasmodics and astringents.’
    • ‘Spray your face with your homemade astringent.’
    • ‘Also, avoid using astringents containing alcohol on anywhere but the most oily patches of skin.’
    • ‘Witch hazel is a cooling astringent, and vegetable glycerin moisturizes your skin.’
    • ‘Alcohol-based astringents and toners can make skin even drier.’
    • ‘Polyphenols - phytochemicals that act like astringents - are major sources of antioxidants in apples.’
    • ‘I use witch hazel as an astringent.’
    • ‘The team demonstrated this by tasting white wines, which do not contain astringents.’
    • ‘They should not try to scrub the lesions away, and they should not use alcohol-based astringents that can dry and irritate their skin.’
    • ‘The alcohol will remove excess oils, the witch hazel will tighten skin and close the pores, and the juice will act as a healing astringent and exfoliant.’
    • ‘I use a gentle astringent as I have oily skin.’
    • ‘Black tea contains tannin, an astringent that can help relieve pain.’
    • ‘You may also consider using a toner or astringent after washing your face.’
    • ‘Unlike the above circulatory herbs, horse chestnut is an astringent.’
    • ‘Witch hazel is an old-fashioned astringent found at your local pharmacy or grocery store.’


Mid 16th century: from French, from Latin astringent- ‘pulling tight’, from the verb astringere, from ad- ‘towards’ + stringere ‘bind, pull tight’.