Definition of vitriol in English:



  • 1Bitter criticism or malice:

    ‘her mother's sudden gush of fury and vitriol’
    • ‘You may see some vitriol and some rhetoric here.’
    • ‘The vitriol rolled off his tongue for nearly 20 minutes.’
    • ‘Such was the vitriol of some of the contributors that several victims, Hazlitt among them, brought successful suits against the magazine.’
    • ‘You couldn't mention one to the other without splenetic vitriol pouring out.’
    • ‘Amid the vitriol, he denies any role in illicit deals.’
    • ‘He was shocked by the vitriol in Washington and by his own poor judgment.’
    • ‘Some homophobic views were probably softened through empathy, while others hardened amid increasing vitriol directed at the gay community.’
    • ‘The state cannot be held to account for every outburst of vitriol, unless, of course, it has appointed the writer in question in a key position in a publication it supervises.’
    • ‘This argumentative beginning to their marital bliss soon deteriorated into vitriol and spite, after which the two split in very short order, fighting over money and who owned what.’
    • ‘Despite the vitriol voiced in September which prompted the dress-code discussion in the first place, the district is satisfied with the status quo.’
    • ‘All we can hope for is that the question will be approached with thoughtfulness, rather than the vitriol (from both sides) which has so far characterised the debate.’
    • ‘It starts out as debate and ends up full of hate, name-calling and vitriol.’
    • ‘Make no mistake: this is the vitriol of a disillusioned fan, not a bemused outsider.’
    • ‘It's something of a disappointment when you had been hoping for a tirade of vitriol against humanity.’
    • ‘Given that local body elections are only 6 months away, the tempo was bound to increase, but I am still somewhat bemused at the ferocity of her attack and the level of her vitriol.’
    • ‘He was sick of the personal vitriol and unfounded character assassination that was arriving via Letters to the Editor.’
    • ‘All the bile and vitriol she had gathered over a lifetime of disappointment came pouring out.’
    • ‘There was all this vitriol and denigration of the people involved.’
    • ‘I think there's plenty of undue hostility towards conservatives in academia, and plenty of vitriol that ought to be condemned.’
    • ‘It's hardly standard practice for a hostile takeover, where it is normal to pour as much scorn and vitriol on the target's management as possible.’
    revilement, invective, condemnation, castigation, chastisement, opprobrium, rebuke, scolding, criticism, flak, disapprobation, fault-finding
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  • 2archaic, literary Sulphuric acid:

    ‘it was as if his words were spraying vitriol on her face’
    • ‘Thus was devised an apparently skillful method of deflecting his perceived humiliation, which in reality is no humiliation at all, by pouring vitriol on the nation lest his own face catch fire.’
    • ‘Spectacularly well-timed, I agree, but unfortunately I spilt all my vitriol on another carpet, so I can't reproduce it with the same passion here.’
    1. 2.1 In names of metallic sulphates, e.g. blue vitriol (copper sulphate) and green vitriol (ferrous sulphate).


Late Middle English (denoting the sulphate of various metals): from Old French, or from medieval Latin vitriolum, from Latin vitrum glass.