Definition of bitter in English:



  • 1Having a sharp, pungent taste or smell; not sweet.

    ‘the raw berries have an intensely bitter flavor’
    • ‘I sniffed at the mix of soap and sharp bitter smells.’
    • ‘I let it sit there for a second or two and then ask myself if the wine tastes sweet, bitter, salty, etc.’
    • ‘We tried to place how a traditionally sweet dessert could also have an underlying bitter taste.’
    • ‘It's best to eat less of the astringent, bitter, and pungent tastes in winter, although all six tastes should be included in your diet.’
    • ‘Korean food relies on the harmony of five flavours: hot, bitter, sweet, salty and sour.’
    • ‘I walked over to the cupboard, pulling down a mug, then filled it with the sweet bitter taste of homemade coffee.’
    • ‘Its bitter yet somewhat sweet flavour just thrills my insides.’
    • ‘So is the case when bitter and sweet flavors merge.’
    • ‘It has a black colour and a full-bodied flavour with a slightly bitter, malty taste.’
    • ‘Linera nodded and sipped from her mug, a sweet and bitter taste greeted her lips.’
    • ‘In Ayurveda, foods are classified into six tastes - sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent.’
    • ‘Chamomile flower (Matricaria spp.) has a pleasantly bitter and sweet taste.’
    • ‘They all exhibit sour, salty, sweet, and bitter tastes or can be any combination of the four.’
    • ‘It has a sweet taste without a bitter aftertaste and contributes a relatively small number of calories when it is eaten.’
    • ‘I can taste the sharp, bitter tang as I lick my lips.’
    • ‘The bright green fruits are said to have a sour, sweet, bitter, and astringent taste, with a cooling energy.’
    • ‘American oak has too obvious a flavour and can impart bitter tastes, to cognac anyway, while Slovenian or ‘Trieste oak’ can be too hard.’
    • ‘It tasted sweet and bitter on his tongue at the same time and made him shiver slightly, unable to decide if he enjoyed the taste or not.’
    • ‘Gone are the bitter taste and pungent odor of many of the herbs.’
    • ‘Saffron has a spicy, pungent, bitter taste and a tenacious odour, so only a very small amount is needed to give flavour and colour.’
    sharp, acid, acidic, pungent, acrid, tart, sour, biting, harsh, unsweetened, vinegary, acetous
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    1. 1.1(of chocolate) dark and unsweetened.
      • ‘From light and fluffy chocolate mousse or bitter chocolate sorbet to steamed chocolate fudge pudding or rich, dense chocolate cake, there is surely a recipe to suit all tastes.’
      • ‘I do like a few chunks of very dark, bitter chocolate, however, especially when paired with a suitable wine.’
      • ‘It is thick with sweet figs, raisins and melting slightly bitter dark chocolate.’
      • ‘It tasted of chocolate not sugar, but was not so unremittingly dark that it would defeat those who find very bitter chocolate just too grown-up.’
      • ‘I am not an expert on desserts, but the outer crust on the fairly ordinary orange ice cream interior didn't work for me at all, nor did the bitter chocolate sauce.’
      • ‘We finished with French farmhouse cheeses and a warm pear tart with Williamine sabayon and bitter chocolate ice cream.’
      • ‘Bottom line is that you reduce red wine with some honey and a lemon slice, add spices and cream, followed by chopped bitter chocolate, and chill the mixture until set.’
      • ‘We were flagging by now, but I managed a pudding, choosing bitter chocolate tart, mango puree and thyme ice cream, for £5.’
      • ‘Also add the bitter chocolate with melted butter into sauce.’
      • ‘I longed for mum to get this box of chocolates, but not because I had a palate advanced enough to enjoy bitter, dark langue-du-chat chocolates.’
      • ‘But I suggest you leave room for pudding and try their famous Trumland tart, made of local Grimbister cheese and bitter chocolate.’
      • ‘Dishes like pheasant braised with apple puree and covered in a bitter chocolate sauce are presented with such finesse that it almost seems a shame to eat them.’
      • ‘The wash is a complex grippy array of dark currant, cool cherry, cassis and bitter chocolate.’
      • ‘From a nutritional perspective, I think dark, bitter chocolate gets the edge because it is relatively low in sugar.’
      • ‘Soft and plentiful aromas of blackberry with side scents of spice delivers ripe blackberry fruit with silky supple tannins and hint of bitter chocolate on the finish.’
      • ‘A starkly savoury wine, this Vacqueyras has a cool, sweet bouquet and a wash with dark bitter chocolate tones, raspberry and spice.’
      • ‘The topping is tasty crushed fried nuts and bitter chocolate.’
      • ‘For dessert, I had a bitter chocolate soufflé, which was slit open at the table so that hot chocolate sauce could be poured inside it.’
      • ‘Another day we make semi-freddo, combining the richness of heavy cream with bitter dark chocolate and the nutty flavour of amaretti biscuits.’
      • ‘The range of sweetness is from a bitter chocolate which is 80 % cocoa, to normal chocolate which is 50 % cocoa.’
  • 2(of people or their feelings or behavior) angry, hurt, or resentful because of one's bad experiences or a sense of unjust treatment.

    ‘I don't feel jealous or bitter’
    • ‘So, with a bitter sense of disappointment that still lingers to this day, I skipped it.’
    • ‘For the rest of us, though, the sense of disappointment is bitter.’
    • ‘Mix in a third person and there are going to be hurt feelings and bitter resentment over not getting the pork fried rice.’
    • ‘Her expression contorting into one of bitter anger and resentment, his of confusion and annoyance.’
    • ‘And there is anger as well as joy, bitter resentment as well as compassion, above all a sense of nagging grief.’
    • ‘Remarkably he displays no self-pity and is not overtly bitter over his treatment, although he admits that the drive to prove his innocence ‘has taken over my life’.’
    • ‘But I tell you this, when she recovers her senses, all Bacchus will give her is bitter tears for her reward.’
    • ‘Scott's words on finding that he had been beaten reveal his bitter mortification and sense of failure.’
    • ‘It would be easy to have negative feelings at this moment in time but I think you only hurt yourself and become bitter and resentful.’
    • ‘It was only two telephone conversations but on both occasions he made bitter references to the treatment he received from other record labels.’
    • ‘Her bitter sense of humour and prudishness masks her loneliness, anger and sense of displacement.’
    • ‘What I can blame lifestyle television for, however, is the bitter sense of disillusionment that attended the process.’
    • ‘That must always leave us with a sense of bitter regret and abiding sorrow.’
    • ‘Angus demanded, and I sensed a bitter tone in his voice, something I'd heard from him before but something that had never been directed at me.’
    • ‘People go away bitter with a great sense of loss and families are destroyed.’
    • ‘It was anger set to music and given a bitter sense of humour in sketches.’
    • ‘The international community failed Rwanda and that must leave us always with a sense of bitter regret.’
    • ‘Here bitter frustration and hurt inspire, not great verse, but direct speech.’
    • ‘He said some of the families would feel ‘very bitter and very hurt’.’
    • ‘He is bitter about his treatment by the media in general.’
    resentful, embittered, aggrieved, dissatisfied, disgruntled, discontented, grudge-bearing, grudging, begrudging, indignant, rancorous, splenetic, spiteful, jaundiced, ill-disposed, sullen, sour, churlish, morose, petulant, peevish, with a chip on one's shoulder
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    1. 2.1(of a conflict, argument, or opponent) full of anger and acrimony.
      ‘a bitter, five-year legal battle’
      • ‘Battles are fought over it, bitter arguments erupt, jealousies flare.’
      • ‘The four men were members of a northside gang involved in a bitter feud between rival families.’
      • ‘All thoughts of the recent bitter conflict that brought its thriving tourist industry to a complete halt have been diplomatically, but purposefully, sidelined.’
      • ‘Such terms are the only things I note down in business meetings, for later use in bitter arguments to feign superior intelligence.’
      • ‘The most contentious, emotional and bitter arguments between the two parties often touch upon race.’
      • ‘These are the first signs of a bitter conflict ahead.’
      • ‘Those veterans had served in several conflicts including the bitter in-fighting of Algeria and the desert war in the Sahara.’
      • ‘In the course of that bitter conflict, Lincoln had been reviled and attacked without mercy.’
      • ‘The euro row for the mainstream media and politicians is a bitter feud between rival multimillionaires and the groupings that back them.’
      • ‘In our society these two groups happen to be engaged in a bitter conflict about everything from SUV's to Presidents.’
      • ‘The predicted bitter disputes - legal, constitutional and inter-party - have not materialised.’
      • ‘The issue was the subject of bitter disputes within legal circles in Britain and internationally.’
      • ‘The invasion of South Korea by its communist neighbour in 1950 stunned the world and sparked three years of bitter conflict, which claimed more than two million lives.’
      • ‘When the train rattled into the next station, an inspector ran into the carriage and tried to settle the bitter argument.’
      • ‘The 61-year-old farmer committed suicide last September following a bitter five-year legal dispute over his farm.’
      • ‘Typically, the opposing hardliners only strike a deal after a long and bitter conflict in which the terrible costs of continuing strife have been made unmistakably clear.’
      • ‘From the very outset there was bitter conflict as to who exactly should be the beneficiaries of liberty, equality and fraternity.’
      • ‘Unsurprisingly, her first full international against bitter rivals England in 1973 is one she will always remember.’
      • ‘One of the sad stories told by those who were engaged in that bitter conflict concerned the blowing up of a troop train in northern Spain.’
      • ‘For decades, bitter arguments about devolution have bubbled away under the surface of a party fiercely proud of its unionist credentials.’
      acrimonious, virulent, angry, rancorous, spiteful, vindictive, vicious, vitriolic, savage, hostile, ferocious, scathing, antagonistic, hate-filled, venomous, poisonous, acrid, bilious, nasty, ill-natured, malign, choleric
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  • 3(often used for emphasis) painful or unpleasant to accept or contemplate.

    ‘today's decision has come as a bitter blow’
    • ‘Last week BP announced more than 200 job losses at the Sullom Voe oil terminal, a bitter blow to a community accustomed to the wealth that comes with oil.’
    • ‘It's a bitter blow for everyone here on the Islands.’
    • ‘We sense a period of bitter helpdesk experience somewhere in that CV.’
    • ‘He described it as a bitter blow to have to leave.’
    • ‘It was a bitter blow at the psychological moment as it sent Waterford in at the break trailing 2-7 to 0-6.’
    • ‘It was a bitter blow to the League's current pacemakers who had been hoping to stamp their name on the soccer scene this season.’
    • ‘Overall there was a mood of resentment and disgust - the product of bitter experiences with successive Labor and Liberal governments over the last two decades.’
    • ‘The move marks a bitter blow for the shopping centre's owners who will see the call centre and the former Garons banqueting suite unoccupied as well as the old C & A store.’
    • ‘It was a bitter blow, because we're ranked second in Europe and I'm sure we would have done well.’
    • ‘While defeat to the bottom team is a bitter blow, and a cruel disappointment at the end of a four game winning sequence, it is not a cue for despair.’
    • ‘The loss of 550 jobs in the down-at-heel Kent seaside town, reducing Hornby to a suite of administrative offices and an echoingly empty factory shed, was a bitter blow.’
    • ‘The criticism of culinary standards in Scotland is contained in two of Germany's biggest-selling travel guides and is a bitter blow to tourism chiefs.’
    • ‘The news will have come as a bitter blow to council chiefs who were hoping to improve upon their ‘weak’ assessment after the first preliminary report emerged this summer.’
    • ‘Do we sigh that such tenets have been disproved many times over, both by the arguments of more profound thinkers in the field and by the sour fruits of a bitter experience?’
    • ‘But campaigners were dealt a bitter blow when county highways officials confirmed that Government funding would not be available for the bypass.’
    • ‘If so, that is far beyond my expectations, and no doubt a bitter blow to Democrats who harbored fantasies of retaking the chamber.’
    • ‘Weeks of ‘treatment’, bitter loneliness, and longing left me emotionally dead.’
    • ‘Thorn's lyrics combine a gritty realism with a bitter sense of irony-yet remain deeply optimistic.’
    • ‘Now to lose a second successive decider was a bitter blow.’
    • ‘The news that the American owners of Federal-Mogul have apparently withdrawn their offer to fund a pensions settlement will come as a bitter blow to thousands of people.’
    painful, unpleasant, disagreeable, nasty, cruel, awful, distressing, disquieting, disturbing, upsetting, harrowing, heartbreaking, heart-rending, agonizing, unhappy, miserable, wretched, sad, poignant, grievous, traumatic, tragic, chilling, mortifying, galling, vexatious
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  • 4(of wind, cold, or weather) intensely cold.

    ‘a bitter wind blowing from the east’
    • ‘A bitter, cold wind made things unpleasant for the capacity crowd of 75,000, many of whom were at the ground at noon.’
    • ‘The team used six batteries, fought off 50 mph winds and battled bitter cold to reach the 6,288-foot mountain summit.’
    • ‘The day is cold, the wind is bitter and the air is dry.’
    • ‘Extreme storms began in June and hit Peru's high country with bitter cold, high winds, heavy snow and torrential rain at lower altitudes.’
    • ‘A bitter gust of wind swept over the two figures sitting on the shadowed sandstone steps in front of the town hall.’
    • ‘The cold and bitter wind came straight at the face and chilled them to their bones.’
    • ‘He carried me outside and the cold, bitter wind stung at me.’
    • ‘The record snow fall left behind bitter cold weather all across the region.’
    • ‘If we can afford it, we escape the cold and bitter winds of northern Alberta to the soul-restoring warmth and relaxation of the tropics.’
    • ‘The capital is again bearing the brunt of the bitter weather with freezing winds, rain and hail showers.’
    • ‘There had been two things that stunned him first: the bitter cold and the intense light coming from the sky.’
    • ‘Britain was braced for more snow and bitter winds today as the cold weather kept its icy grip on the country.’
    • ‘The wind seemed to blow bitter cold through him as much as around him, and Taberah sometimes shivered even when he was inside and wearing a sweater.’
    • ‘A bitter cold wind cut right through his leather jacket and flannel lined jeans, but he didn't notice it at all.’
    • ‘Cold nights, bitter rain, the fear of predators, nothing would make me take that final step inside.’
    • ‘It was early winter of '82, snow had blanketed the ground and the weather had turned bitter cold, here in the Northeast.’
    • ‘The cold and bitter wind raged over the prison island, the morning sky black with swarms of mist and fog.’
    • ‘They stood there in the bitter wind; not one complained of the discomfort or cold.’
    • ‘The cold bitter wind howled around them, biting through their blankets and clothes, chilling them to the bone.’
    • ‘Angry, bitter wind drove frozen rain hard into the window, rattling the panes.’
    intensely cold, bitterly cold, freezing, icy, icy-cold, arctic, glacial, frosty, frigid, chilly
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  • 1British Beer that is strongly flavored with hops and has a bitter taste.

    • ‘With his expert guidance, I achieved a personal best of not only drinking a pint of nasty nasty bitter quite rapidly, but doing so on a Tuesday.’
    • ‘But when he went to Nottingham University to study law, he developed a taste for lager because the ‘local bitter was so bad’.’
    • ‘Throughout the sale, pints of Spitfire bitter, bottles of Budweiser, glasses of red or white wine and glasses of Famous Grouse Whisky will cost just 99p each.’
    • ‘At the moment the pub is also serving a range of Daleside beers brewed in Harrogate, including Old Leg Over and Greengrass Old Rogue Ale and Black Sheep best bitter.’
    • ‘We at Bar Talk prefer good old fashioned English bitter, such as York Brewery's Save City Ale.’
    • ‘Kensington High Street was less threatening to the plastic and I even had a decent pint of draught bitter at just a few pence more than I pay in the centre of York.’
    • ‘Lager and bitter are different types of beer, commercially more different than red and white wine, but perhaps not as different as whisky and gin.’
    • ‘In spite of the early kick-off most customers were snubbing the option of coffee and orange juice and opting for lager or bitter.’
    • ‘Beers include Fullers' London Pride and the local Warwickshire beer, Castle bitter.’
    • ‘Now the Inspector likes a drink, particularly Rams' Blood bitter so he was plied with the stuff for the next three nights.’
    • ‘We settled back with a very drinkable pint and a half of Theakstons best bitter to peruse the menu.’
    • ‘Tom, of course, does not take payment in coin of the realm but in pints of Ram's Blood bitter.’
    • ‘A pint of English bitter, which has a strength of 3.6%, is two units.’
    • ‘Then came this fatally seductive drama, telling us we didn't have to live in a world of three-day weeks and keg bitter.’
    • ‘He now hopes to see his beer on sale at other pubs across East Yorkshire, and has enjoyed success in the Hull Beer festival, with Melsa bitter named ‘Best in Show’.’
    • ‘Once they have been paid, they will head straight for the nearest public house and a pint of best bitter.’
    • ‘Traditional, warm bitter can sometimes be too watery while strong lager can be too ‘treacly’ and not adhere to a glass's interior.’
    • ‘Things are more straightforward for beer drinkers; half a pint of ordinary strength bitter and lager is equivalent to one unit.’
    • ‘These prices would have been quite expensive in the 1920s, when a pint of bitter could be bought for five old pennies, or two pence in modern money.’
    • ‘The pool is available for an hour, and if there is no training to be done, I use the time for a 20-minute hard swim, often with fins, before heading to the bar for a pint of diet bitter.’
  • 2[treated as singular] Liquor that is flavored with the sharp pungent taste of plant extracts and is used as an additive in cocktails or as a medicinal substance to promote appetite or digestion.

    • ‘I went with the waiter-recommended champagne cocktail with orange bitters.’
    • ‘The whirling flavours release bitter-sweet lime, aromatic bitters and fiery ginger with every twist.’
    • ‘Winners this year included drinks made using a Scottish candy with cloves and orange bitters, one with Chartreuse and rosemary, and a highly recommended refresher using peach puree, amaretto and peach bitters.’
    • ‘So now we have a drink named the Martinez that's made with gin, sweet vermouth, and orange bitters.’
    • ‘Then, again, he did enjoy bitters in many of his cocktails.’
    • ‘And Spain's classic Liquor 43 makes an appearance in their Manhattan 43, blended with Woodford Reserve Bourbon, sweet vermouth and a dash of bitters.’
    • ‘The drinks were Western, with Malay names - stengah for whisky and soda and pahits for gin and bitters.’
    • ‘On a whim I added some maraschino liqueur and a few dashes of orange bitters to the Auchentoshan, stirred the drink over ice, and sampled it.’
    • ‘Always take herbal bitters (used to prevent bloating and other digestive problems) five to 10 minutes before a meal.’
    • ‘If bitters were added to a rum or whisky based drink, it was known as a cocktail.’
    • ‘In a mixing glass, moderately muddle syrup, bitters, mint, orange and lime together.’
    • ‘Being a talented man of many resources, John Stamm is well known for the manufacture of patent medicine or bitters.’
    • ‘I believe that's a gin martini variation with sweet vermouth, bitters and an orange peel.’
    • ‘Bart asked her, if she was such a stickler, did she put bitters in her Manhattans.’
    • ‘So it may indeed be true that herbal bitters stimulate the appetite, probably by way of speedier digestion and quicker stomach emptying.’
    • ‘The plant's active principles are volatile oils, tannins and bitters, and plant constituents acknowledged to improve digestion, reduce GI spasms, and lessen nausea.’
    • ‘My friend swears a European bitters formula has helped her digestion.’
    • ‘His Pomegranate Manhattan starts off with Maker's Mark, then adds pomegranate molasses, Italian bitter liqueur Cynar and orange bitters.’
    • ‘Some think the drink originated with a concoction of sweet Old Tom gin, vermouth, bitters and maraschino developed by a San Francisco bartender in the 1860s.’
    • ‘The bartender presented the man with Old Tom gin, vermouth, bitters and syrup and called the drink a Martinez.’


  • to the bitter end

    • Used to say that one will continue doing something until it is finished, no matter what.

      ‘the workers would fight to the bitter end for safer conditions’
      • ‘And so they will probably defend him pretty close to the bitter end.’
      • ‘And while the identity of the villain might be obvious, the tension is strung out to the bitter end, providing some cracking entertainment along the way.’
      • ‘The U-boat command had no choice but to continue to fight right to the bitter end.’
      • ‘It was a matter of pride and they fought to the bitter end to hold on to it.’
      • ‘The hand is played to the bitter end, until only one player has cards left, for reasons explained below.’
      • ‘Things were looking a little different this time last week as Polygon indicated it would fight to the bitter end.’
      • ‘But we plan to stick with our search to the bitter end.’
      • ‘This war must be fought to the bitter end, and there is only one outcome acceptable both to us and to you: Total and Complete Victory.’
      • ‘Did he not realise that the Irish fight to the bitter end?’
      • ‘This shows once again that you can try to beat down business with socialism, but it will fight back to the bitter end.’
      • ‘Members of his audience showed their appreciation in the time-honoured fashion with lots of arm waving and frantic dancing - right to the bitter end.’
      • ‘Last week's decision to take the matter to the bitter end at the Court of Appeal was taken at a hastily-convened meeting by just four members.’
      • ‘The raids were among the last gasps of a defeated McCarthyism that remained lethal to the bitter end.’
      • ‘Durability is a must: no matter what sort of beating you've taken in a match, you've still got to be there right to the bitter end.’
      • ‘While some wanted to see it through to the bitter end and get what was rightfully theirs, others just wanted to see an end to what had been consuming their lives for almost two years.’
      • ‘The champions, as would be expected of them fought to the bitter end but were unable to pierce a strong Wicklow defence for the match saving goal.’
      • ‘And they are prepared to fight to the bitter end to ensure that a smelter plant does not destroy their rural community.’
      • ‘Most of the capacity crowd stayed to the bitter end.’
      • ‘Therfore, I hereby resolve to stick the play out to the bitter end, no matter how dire.’
      • ‘Through it all and to the bitter end he continued to exert a strange fascination over his generals, as he did over the whole German people.’


Old English biter, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch and German bitter, and probably to bite.