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[uh-sur-bi-tee] /əˈsɜr bɪ ti/
sourness, with roughness or astringency of taste.
harshness or severity, as of temper or expression.
Origin of acerbity
From the Latin word acerbitās, dating back to 1565-75. See acerbic, -ity Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for acerbity
Historical Examples
  • Now, she spoke with some acerbity in her voice, which could at will be wondrous soft and low.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • “I would have thought her mother should have kept her in order,” said Rachel with acerbity.

    Clare Avery Emily Sarah Holt
  • After a time Mern suggested with acerbity that Craig was incoherent.

  • "You have promised me," he began, with a note of acerbity in his voice.

    The Green Rust Edgar Wallace
  • Much annoyed, I answered with some acerbity, bidding her kindly to be gone.

    Fibble, D. D. Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb
  • "I was thinking of her losing me," replied Mr. Chalk, with a touch of acerbity.

  • "Not my friend, a mere acquaintance," Vane replies with acerbity.

  • "I have no doubt he is a thief," continued Aunt Maria, with acerbity.

    Phil the Fiddler Horatio Alger, Jr.
  • "I mean what I say," returned Alice with a touch of acerbity.

    The Beauty Mrs. Wilson Woodrow
  • "And a jolly lot that means to me," retorted Masters, with acerbity.

    The Tempering

    Charles Neville Buck
British Dictionary definitions for acerbity


noun (pl) -ties
vitriolic or embittered speech, temper, etc
sourness or bitterness of taste
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for acerbity

1570s, from Middle French acerbité, from Latin acerbitatem (nominative acerbitas) "harshness, sharpness, bitterness," from acerbus "bitter to taste, sharp, sour, tart" (related to acer "sharp;" cf. Latin superbus "haughty," from super "above"), from Proto-Italic *akro-po- "sharp," from PIE *ak- "sharp" (see acrid). Earliest use in English is figurative, of "sharp and bitter" persons. Of tastes, from 1610s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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