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[uh-sper-i-tee] /əˈspɛr ɪ ti/
noun, plural asperities.
harshness or sharpness of tone, temper, or manner; severity; acrimony:
The cause of her anger did not warrant such asperity.
hardship; difficulty; rigor:
the asperities of polar weather.
roughness of surface; unevenness.
something rough or harsh.
Origin of asperity
late Middle English
1200-50; late Middle English asperite (< Anglo-French) < Latin asperitās, equivalent to asper rough + -itās -ity; replacing Middle English asprete < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin
1. acerbity, bitterness, astringency.
1. affability, cheerfulness. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for asperity
Contemporary Examples
  • He looked at the president when the president spoke, and his expression revealed no asperity or disdain.

    Why Obama Lost David Frum October 3, 2012
Historical Examples
  • “Mr. Ford has already explained the situation,” he said with asperity.

    Martin Eden Jack London
  • "We can't run about after phantoms, sir," he said, with a touch of asperity in his voice.

    Jack O' Judgment Edgar Wallace
  • Time has softened the asperity of our feelings, and the productions of Shelley's genius are now justly admired.

    Genius in Sunshine and Shadow Maturin Murray Ballou
  • "You'd better ask her yourself," said the other with some asperity.

    Jack O' Judgment Edgar Wallace
  • And then with some asperity, as I imagine, the young duke told him that “truly he had no inclination for food.”

    Familiar Studies of Men and Books Robert Louis Stevenson
  • "Well, one ought to be enough," returns Marcia, with asperity.

    Floyd Grandon's Honor Amanda Minnie Douglas
  • "Oh, if you find your own cases more interesting than mine—" said Holmes, with some asperity.

    Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • It was not in his heart to add to the asperity of her martyrdom by any light words.

    The Faith Doctor Edward Eggleston
  • "I did not say that it was," retorted the major with a touch of asperity in his tone.

    A Book of Ghosts Sabine Baring-Gould
British Dictionary definitions for asperity


noun (pl) -ties
roughness or sharpness of temper
roughness or harshness of a surface, sound, taste, etc
a condition hard to endure; affliction
(physics) the elastically compressed region of contact between two surfaces caused by the normal force
Word Origin
C16: from Latin asperitās, from asper rough
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 asperity

c.1200, asprete "hardship, harshness of feelings," a figurative use, from Old French asperité "difficulty, painful situation, harsh treatment" (12c., Modern French âpreté), from Latin asperitatem (nominative asperitas) "roughness," from asper "rough, harsh," of unknown origin; in Latin used also of sour wine, bad weather, and hard times. Figurative meaning "harshness of feeling" attested from early 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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